You’ve Got a (True or False) Message

Lygia gives a presentation
During YLAI 2017 in Charlottesville, I had the opportunity to teach a course on effective meetings to the Paramount Theater team. The same responsibility I have with the information I share with my clients during my trainings, I apply to the information I share via social media, message apps, conversations, etc.

By Lygia Pontes

When I was young and I was studying English, one of my favorite exercises was the “True or False.” Finding out if the information presented was real or not was something that I loved. I had to check what was presented, the context, etc. Although I don’t take English classes anymore, I have the feeling I’m doing this exercise every day.

The digital universe is amazing as we have access to a lot of information, but we cannot forget the world of books. Knowledge is acquired from different sources and media. | Becca Tapert, Unsplash

If I could rank the words and expressions I have been reading or hearing the most lately, “fake news” would be number one. False information has always been present in my life, and I’m sure the same thing happens to everyone. However, this became a bigger problem lately due to technology — more specifically, social media and messaging apps that allow information to travel faster.

Although tech companies and governments have been trying to end the propagation of fake news, they haven’t been able to do anything effective. This means people need to take this responsibility too. In my case, I can thank my public relations background, as dealing with information (true or false) was my routine and I learned how to avoid fake news.

Nowadays, although I don’t work directly with communications anymore, I use this background to help my community and clients to stay well-informed and away from fake news. I see this as part of my role as a citizen. This is not an easy task, but I use these questions to help:

  • Where did I get the information from?
  • Is the source reliable?
  • Can another reliable source confirm the information?
  • Are there videos or photos confirming the information?
  • Has the information been checked by any fact-checking site?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” don’t share the information. It’s also important to say that whoever spreads fake information can be prosecuted, since it can damage people’s lives and companies’ reputation.

I know that answering all these questions can be hard, especially if we read or hear something that creates intense emotions. If this happens to you, take a deep breath and answer the questions. If you still can’t do this, ignore the message and focus on something important, like your work, your family or your community, something that will really bring you a benefit.

Lygia Pontes

Lygia Pontes is an adviser, consultant, and speaker on professional happiness and efficiency at Lygia Pontes Consultoria. She is also a networking teacher at ESPM – SP. In 2017, Lygia participated in the YLAI Professional Fellowship and was also selected to participate in the GES (Global Entrepreneurship Summit) in India.

Este artigo está disponível em português.