Misinformation is everywhere online these days. And it appears to be getting worse every year. Misinformation isn’t just a problem for news outlets and public health organizations. It is now becoming a major concern for content marketers and advertisers alike. 

A recent Integral Ad Science / YouGov survey of U.S. digital media experts found that “industry experts agree the spread of misinformation is the most concerning media quality threat.” These experts said their biggest concerns regarding misinformation are “consumer distrust in legitimate content and advertising” and the “impact on company reputation.”

This is in line with what Content Science has found in terms of the importance of content accuracy. When users view content as accurate, they’re more likely to see it as useful and are more likely to complete their goals. 

Despite the value users place on accurate, trustworthy content, misinformation continues to be a growing problem. But, as misinformation spreads, so do efforts to fight it. 

There are a number of fact-checking organizations trying to help the public learn to spot misinformation. And now a new site from the nonpartisan education nonprofit, the News Literacy Project is aiming to help you “know what’s safe to share and which rumors should be stopped in their tracks.” 

The website, RumorGuard, will be covering “all types of misinformation and categorize it by topic, from manipulated content or engagement bait to pressing issues like climate change and politics.” RumorGuard also details five factors the public should consider when trying to determine if a claim is credible. 

The site is aimed at helping the public discern what is true. But RumorGuard’s five factors are also essential guardrails for content marketers when they write, publish, and share information. 

Here’s a look at a few of the factors and what they mean for content marketers. 

Make Sure Photos or Videos You Use Are Real and Cite the Source

It’s easier than ever to fake a photo, video, or even a persona online. So whether you create content for a healthcare organization, SaaS company, or manufacturer, make sure you check the authenticity of any outside imagery. 

RumorGuard says to be sure photos and videos:

  • Haven’t been changed (“doctored”) in any way
  • Aren’t put in “false context”
  • Aren’t completely fake

Another way to ensure the authenticity of a photo or video is to check the source of the content. And always cite the source in your own content. 

Not sure where to start? RumorGuard suggests using Google’s reverse image search to suss out where an image comes from. 

Check the Credibility of Any Sources You Use

As RumorGuard puts it: “Not all sources of information are created equal.” If you’re using a news article, report, or outside expert as a source in your content, always confirm the organization’s or person’s credibility.  

You can follow the New Literacy Project’s tips for vetting a source, which include using search and looking for standards. 

Fact Check All Evidence You Cite in Your Content 

Be sure to fact check all data, quotes, and social media posts. “Many false claims are sheer assertions and lack any pretense of evidence, while others present digital fakes and out-of-context elements for support,” says RumorGuard. 

If you are citing data from a report, check the source of the report and how the data was collected. Using a quote from an official or expert you saw on another organization’s site or in a social media post? Check that the person actually said it and that the quote itself is accurate and not changed or taken out of context.

Learn more about misinformation and how to prevent it at RumorGuard or read more from Content Science Review.

The Author

Elizabeth Mendes is a Senior Associate with Content Science. She is an editorial leader and content strategist whose experience spans the news, nonprofit, and corporate arenas. Mendes has spearheaded a wide array of digital initiatives including website launches and redesigns and the creation of mobile news apps and interactive online tools. She has helped two of America’s oldest and most trusted brands – Gallup and the American Cancer Society – move from a traditionally print to digital-first mindset – and taken them from behind the curve to ahead of it.

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