Misinformation got you down? Here’s how to get informed the right way

Illustration of a person sitting at a desk with multiple screens and devices, conveying a chaotic and stressed mood in relation to election anxiety.
Rachel Lee/Staff

We’ve received huge amounts of information about this year’s election on a daily basis, and making sense of it has been no small task. 

Social media platforms have made it so that learning about your friend’s political views is as easy as tapping on their Instagram story and observing what — and whose — political content they’ve chosen to share. Meanwhile, podcasts are an increasingly popular, on-the-go medium to consume political information. 

Many would agree that understanding both sides of an argument is crucial to strengthening your own perspective, but that can be easier said than done. Sometimes, setting out to learn about the other side means deep diving into an endless spiral of confusing and potentially false information, including on social media.

Fundamental to your quest to learn is the social media platform you explore.

TikTok, one of the newest social media platforms, has promised to prevent the spread of false information. If a user mentions something related to the election in their video, a link to voter registration information is added at the bottom. As younger generations have been relying increasingly on the video app for news about major social and political events, greater possibilities for the spread of misinformation have arisen. 

Arguably, one of the best TikTok moments of the year was the emergence of Claudia Conway, Kellyanne Conway’s 16-year-old daughter, who spoke out against everything ranging from police brutality to her mother’s political views. As an added bonus, she also was the first to break the news that her mother tested positive for COVID-19 following President Donald Trump’s diagnosis.

Around the same time that Claudia emerged onto the TikTok scene, there was a surge in the amount of political information being shared on Instagram in the form of infographics, especially during the Black Lives Matter protests. They have since expanded to cover a wide range of political and social causes, including the election. 

Posting on social media opens up opportunities for learning and growth, but one unintended consequence is the possibility of accidentally sharing false information. Sharing takes mere seconds, but doing a detailed fact-check of the graphic and making sure its message comes from a reliable source is much more complicated. 

Having a solid understanding of current news and politics allows you to do a simple fact-check on infographics and essentially all online information yourself. 

Beyond Instagram, TikTok and even The New York Times, one of the best (and easiest) ways to stay up-to-date is through podcasts. Below are several recommendations for political and news podcasts that can elevate your election knowledge and prevent you from accidentally reposting something that doesn’t align with your values — or the facts. 

“Up First” by NPR

This podcast features daily, nonpartisan headline updates, and since each episode is only about 10 minutes long, it’s easy to listen to between classes or during your walk to the grocery store. 

“The Daily” by The New York Times

For all your Monday through Friday news needs, “The Daily” has you covered. The episodes are only about 20 minutes long and highlight the most relevant news issues from the day. At the end of each episode, host Michael Barbaro gives a recap on what other news you might’ve missed. Most episodes feature guests, ranging from leading experts to concerned citizens. As an added bonus, Barbaro occasionally makes dad jokes.

“Left, Right and Center” by KCRW

This podcast gives you a liberal, conservative and moderate perspective, which can expand your ideas surrounding relevant political issues and help you to better understand the other side (so you can better counter their arguments).

Contact Mia Horne at [email protected].