Brennan Center Explainer on Best Practices for Assessing Election Information

The Brennan Center has put out a helpful explainer that outlines best practices for evaluating the content that we encounter on a daily basis, especially as it pertains to the November general election.

This resource encourages us to be skeptical of any kind of information that we find “shocking” or “surprising” or “hard to believe” — whether it might be AI generated or not — and to develop “best practices for evaluating content” that go back to relying on trusted traditional journalistic practices like “fact checking”, giving the person or group that is subject to an attack or allegation an opportunity to respond, and evaluating evidence supporting and opposing an allegation.

The resource also has links to good fact-checking websites and an international fact-checking network supported by the Poynter Institute, which is a non-profit that supports best practices by journalists.

We’ve pulled out the Best Practices portion below and encourage you to read the entire piece here:

“Develop best practices for evaluating content.

To effectively navigate this new landscape, voters should adopt a critical approach toward both the information they consume and its sources. When confronted with sensational images, video, or audio, new information about voting, or details about the election process from an unfamiliar or unverified website or account, voters should: 

Evaluate the legitimacy and credibility of the content or media — investigating the source’s background can help prevent misinterpretation or manipulation.

Go straight to a credible independent fact-checking site — such as PolitiFact, AP Factcheck, or another site verified by the International Fact-Checking Network — or the Artificial Intelligence Incident Database operated by the Responsible AI Collaborative to try to verify the authenticity of content or to submit content to such sites or databases for verification. Using search engines is not the best first step because they sometimes return inaccurate content based on a user’s search history.

Approach emotionally charged content with critical scrutiny, since such content can impair judgment and make people susceptible to manipulation.

Maintain a balanced approach to evaluating election information. While a degree of skepticism towards some online election-related content is necessary, excessive analysis of generic images or videos can be counterproductive, providing opportunities for bad actors to discredit authentic information.”

Cody Meador

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