Dealing with such a complex and distressing situation is a challenge that not everyone knows how to tackle. What are the basic rules and knowledge that help us decide what information to accept as credible? The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and the Hungarian fact-checking site Lakmusz have put together a short guide to help readers filter out fake news about the war. The guide is available in Hungarian, so we summarized some of its main points.

  • Russia is known to have built up its own media apparatus serving propaganda purposes, whose news is often redistributed by other media outlets. For instance Hungarian state TV or Hungarian pro-Russian news sites are proved to do so, but it can happen in your country too. So it is important to look for the original source of a news item, and if you find that it comes from the Russian state media, you should be suspicious.

  • In a war both sides can be one-sided and confirmation bias can be even stronger in such a heated situation. Therefore, even if you see news that reinforces your own opinions or beliefs, check the source carefully before sharing it.

  • For news you see on Facebook, make sure you check whether other news sites are also reporting it. If only one source has posted something, it could be suspicious.

  • Don't just read the title or the short description! In the age of clickbait, it's crucial to understand the whole context. Watch the video, read the whole article. And check the author of an article - if an article has no author, that should raise your suspicion.

  • Images and videos can be very powerful and their truthfulness is less doubted, but unfortunately they can be just as manipulative as text. It is not necessary to think of sophisticated hoaxes such as deepfakes, it is enough if someone presents images taken elsewhere, or at another time to serve their own interests. Always check who uploaded the picture or video!

If you are interested in Russian propaganda and want to understand how it can affect Hungary, we recommend reading Political capital's analysis.

For a deeper understanding of how disinformation works and what you can do about it, we recommend Hive MInd's free self-paced course HERE. Find out how you can be stronger, more critical, how you can fight misinformation!

Background illustration: Photo by Katie Godowski from Pexels / Pexels license