‘Think more, share less’: UW research center helps stop spread of misinformation

SPOKANE, Wash.– In the age of social media, it has become harder than ever to sort fact from fiction. That’s why the University of Washington launched the Center for an Informed Public in 2019.

Jevin West is the director of that nonpartisan center. He said the goal is to inform the public to help stop the spread of misinformation and disinformation.

“If we just think more, share less, I think we’d be better off as a world,” West said.

But these days, people seem to be sharing more than ever, even when they don’t have the right information.

“We do it because we’re human and sometimes there is social capital gain from having a lot of likes and having a piece of news that you shared got shared even more,” West said.

And as the globe faces unprecedented challenges, some people try to capitalize on high emotions.

“There are professional conspiracy theorists out there,” West said. “They make money by spreading misinformation and disinformation.”

That’s part of why West said we all need to question what’s online, even if a friend or family member shared it.

“We can do better, so we need to create good habits of mind and we also need to be practicing this and building a culture of good information spreading, rather than bad information spreading and figure out ways to encourage that and to call it out when we see it,” West said.

Take THIS QUIZ to see how news literate you are when it comes to deciding what to share.

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