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Information Hygiene: How to Recognize Manipulative News


Author: Dariia Serdiuk

Information hygiene is an indispensable element in maintaining psychological health. Limiting the amount of news, critical perception of the flow of information, a rational approach to the selection of reliable sources. All this can sometimes be difficult, but still a necessary task.

In this article, we will tell you how to recognize manipulative news and maintain your information hygiene. Let’s stay calm and rational in our struggle.

You should pay attention to the following components while reading any journalistic materials:

  • the headline
  • the text itself and the emotions it evokes
  • the author, the references and the source of the news

Very often you can recognize manipulative news already by the headline. The headlines are provocative, emotionally charged and often have an established opinion and conclusions. Such headlines often use UPPERCASE, words “treason”, “victory”, “disaster”, “sensation”, “shock”, “read to all,” etc.

Professional propagandists and manipulators can pass the “headline test.” Therefore, it is important to critically perceive the text of the article itself. Pay attention to whether the material contains the following signs of manipulative texts:

  • Using emotionally colored words, often highlighted in the text. Expressing the author’s personal attitude to the event. If you are not reading a personal blog, the material should not contain any emotions, only facts.
  • False argumentation. If the news has no evidence – you can safely close it. If there is an argument, then carefully evaluate its credibility and logic.
  • Statistics and figures that are not clear, studies without references. “Increased several times” by how much? The results of the study or statistics that are not referenced? Most likely they were never conducted and the data came out of nowhere.
  • The arguments are common societal viewpoints or myths. If one turns to what one subconsciously or consciously believes, then why even bother composing the latest studies and statistics.
  • Predictions by professionals. Professionals recognize the probability of their case, the limited calculating of all possible factors. In manipulative news, an expert’s opinion is presented as fact.
  • Using incomprehensible terminology without explanation. Such articles can look more expert and weighty. It also helps to substitute concepts and manipulate information.
  • Repetition of the same statement – verbatim or paraphrased. This immediately allows you to understand the main message the news is trying to plant.
  • Familiar and devaluing references: “Petka,” “Yulka,” “clown”. This attitude of the “journalist” indicates either unprofessionalism or a custom-made text.
  • Lack of reference to the original source of the news, quotations, etc.

Always pay attention to the author of the news. The journalist or news resource must be verified. In wartime, it is best to focus only on official spokespersons. There are official websites and telegram channels of various government and state agencies. You can make a list of verified sources and journalists.

Remember to appeal not only to the rational, but also to your emotions. Often manipulative news puts a strain on the reader’s state of mind. Your heart begins to beat faster, you react emotionally. If the information causes excessive emotion, it is better to put the news aside, calm down. Later you can look it up in other sources, check the facts and references.

Remember that the information we consume directly affects how we feel and act. The information front is an important part of modern warfare. This is why we should consume and distribute information responsibly.