OPINION: Navigating an onslaught of information in war

By: Madi Brown

Amidst Russian President Vladimir Putin’s violent invasion on Ukraine which began on February 24, 2022, following months of tensions between the two countries, there has been an onslaught of information spewing from and within both countries. 

To begin to understand the different types of information, you must first know the difference between misinformation and disinformation. 

Misinformation is information that is either false or out of context void of any intent to deceive. 

Disinformation is information that is intentionally misleading, false, or attempting to deceive. 

The most important difference between false information is the intent behind it. A lot of times on social media, we run into misinformation. People unknowingly post, share, spread, like, comment, on things that are presented as factual when in reality they are not. In the case of posts regarding the war in Ukraine, there is plenty of information which is blatantly false. Many times I have been scrolling through the popular social media video app TikTok and have found videos with hashtags regarding Ukraine and Russia. There have been instances where I see a video of gunfights or missiles filling up night skies and I look at the comments only to find out the video I just watched was an American training video, a scene from a hyper realistic video game, or an outdated video from a different war years prior. I’ve learned the importance of verifying sources as it has been incredibly easy to spread misinformation when it is hitting viewers so quickly. 

In the case of disinformation, the intentional spread of false information, this is produced and shared with the intent to harm. However, like the spread of misinformation on social media, it is also easy to spread. Fact checking, especially in a war, is crucial. 

Scrolling through TikTok, it’s difficult to see people my age go through something so unreal. It’s hard to watch real first hand accounts of tragedy. Attached below are screenshots and videos taken from TikTok of people recording their own accounts of the war. 

Warning: some of the images might be graphic for some viewers

A great resource for information and Russian disinformation provided by US Department of State is linked here.

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