BOSTON (CBS) – “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive,” said Sir Walter Scott in 1808.
Two centuries later, misinformation threatens to overwhelm our political discourse. “It’s scary,” said Bhaskar Chakravorti, the dean of Global Business at the Tufts Fletcher School who heads a team that has produced a Misinformation Vulnerability Index, ranking the states by how gullible they are to lies and fakery.
Among the key factors: “education levels, age, where you get your news from, do you have extreme political leanings either to the left or to the right,” said Chakravorti. Coming in at 25th most vulnerable – New Hampshire.
“New Hampshire, in general, tends to have much fewer sources of media and worse Internet access than, say, Massachusetts,” he said. And during the pandemic, with so many of us flocking to the web, some voters are easily duped by lie-peddling websites and partisan spin masquerading as journalism.
“So you end up getting a skewed view of what’s going on in the world, and you share it with your neighbors and your community members and it becomes the narrative,” Chakravorti said.
A partial solution? Use the technology that’s misinforming you to look harder for the truth. If something seems outrageous, double-check it with established news sources. And never accept rumors and gossip spread on Facebook and other social media sites as gospel without some verification.
Chakravorti is urging media outlets and community leaders to do more to combat misinformation but said that, ultimately, the buck stops with the consumer. “You, the voter, is responsible for learning the reality that is around you,” he says.