How to Spread Misinformation
With the advent of the Internet and social media, the average person is afforded unprecedented power to consume and spread information. But with great power, comes great responsibilities -- to be skeptical, to seek out facts and evidence, to restrict, or at least not aid, the spread of rumors. Of course, one also has the ability to completely ignore all those responsibilities. When that happens, you may discover that you're a purveyor of misinformation.
And if you're going to spread misinformation, you might as well do it right. To all the devout Natural News readers, anti-vaxxers, and alternative medicine scam artists out there, this guide's for you! If truth and logic is your thing, feel free to read these tips as well, then forget them, or better yet, do the exact opposite.
Embrace your biases. Whatever you're into, chances are you can find an advocacy group, corporation, or political party whose tweets and Facebook posts you can pass on without question! We humans have a tendency to favor information that confirms our beliefs -- give in to it! Seek out sources that share your stances and like-minded individuals to revel with. Turn your life into a sounding board.
Don't stop. Don't think. According to psychologists, assessing the veracity of a piece of information requires both motivation and brain power. You certainly don't want to waste either of those precious resources. Better to stick to your carefully tailored and guarded mindset. Avoid visiting pesky websites like Snopes or TruthOrFiction. Don't bother searching out conflicting sources or reading the entire article. Let the mass media be your guide: if you want to be the most popular, you have to share the information first!
Repeat, repeat, repeat! Your friends, family, and followers need to know that juicy bit of information or controversial discovery! So what if all the "facts" don't line up? Facts don't change minds! Opinions are formed and molded by a barrage of information. Whether that information is true or not doesn't matter.
Ignore the Fallout. Who cares if vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, mumps, and whooping cough are on the rise because you've convinced everyone that vaccines are evil? So what if you blindly shared a fake story that an asteroid was set to wipe out all life on Earth? Who cares if you fueled a fire of false allegations that nearly destroyed somebody's life? If you do start to feel guilty, just take a look at that insane photo that's too unbelievable to be true... then hit "share."
Whatever you do, don't read these: "Digital Wildfires in a Hyperconnected World." World Economic Forum. 2013
Stephan Lewandowsky, Ullrich K. H. Ecker, Colleen M. Seifert, Norbert Schwarz, and John Cook. "Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing." Psychological Science in the Public Interest December 2012 vol. 13 no. 3 106-131
"I Don't Want to Be Right." Maria Konnikova. The New Yorker. May 2014.