The VA’s central IT office has called on the department’s employees to help fight the spread of misinformation about the VA, saying that “during the pandemic we’ve seen many examples of misinformation schemes that have targeted federal employees, our veterans, and the general public.”
“Frauds about antibody testing, cures, and phony research flooded the internet,” a blog posting said. “The State Department recently supported a study stating that misinformation schemes are significant vulnerabilities to public trust because they spread false narrative, distortions, and falsehoods that undermine trust in the truth.”
“Because some of these schemes are directed at federal employees, our military, and our veterans, it’s important that we all understand what we’re looking for, and how we slow down the spread of bad information,” said the posting, which was reshared by the CIO Council as part of its cybersecurity awareness month program.
It said that inflammatory messages commonly are designed to elicit a gut reaction, which technology then magnifies. “When you are quick to react and share something inflammatory, that post then gets additional reactions (up to ten times more) and the newsfeed algorithms show it to more and more users, which prompts even more engagement. Then it turns into a social media cycle-confirmation-bias machine that spreads the misinformation far and wide,” it said.
It said the first step is “bringing self-awareness to our own beliefs and perceptions since, many times, misinformation schemes are tailored toward a specific belief or viewpoint to manipulate it. Next, you can always validate a post or story by quickly checking a few alternative sources to see if you can confirm the story from multiple viewpoints. If you’re unable to validate the information, there’s a good chance it’s misinformation.”
It also suggested that before repeating a post, use the THINK formula: is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind.