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Here's the antidote to your misinformation-filled holiday conversations

The Israel-Hamas war. Trump's criminal cases. The holidays may bring some awkward political convos. Use this to navigate them.


It’s the holiday season and for many people that means it’s time to prepare for tableside political debates with relatives that may spur a lot of eye rolls and hurt feelings. 

These days, such discussions are easily poisoned by political misinformation and disinformation that spreads online.

With that in mind, the holidays are a great time for everyone to improve their diet — their information diet, that is. I’m of the belief that worthwhile debate requires all parties involved to agree on basic facts. Here's a quick “guide” with tips, tricks and tools to help you and your loved ones identify misinformation and disinformation online.

  • I wrote this post in 2019 to explain how bad actors use journalists to spread misinformation, including through viral sloganeering and leak forgery.
  • This CNET post will help you identify artificial intelligence-based manipulation and misinformation like deepfakes. It’s relevant given the Republican National Committee's use of a deepfake to attack President Joe Biden earlier this year. 
  • ZDnet wrote a post that offers some helpful tips to identify misinformation being spread on popular video platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.
  • Here’s a report from my NBC News colleague Brandy Zadrozny on how X owner Elon Musk and several accounts that are verified on his social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, have spread misinformation amid the Israel-Hamas war. 
  • This University of Pennsylvania study published in June offers vital insight into how to debunk science-based misinformation.
  • I wrote this post earlier this year warning about media outlets focused on Black culture — like The Shade Room and No Jumper — spreading right-wing propaganda and misinformation.
  • Here’s a Vox article on conservative efforts to spread right-wing misinformation and propaganda to Latino voters.
  • This Washington Post article makes a convincing argument that the recent purported trend of social media users praising a letter Osama Bin Laden addressed to America was amplified largely by critics of the supposed trend. I see it as a lesson about the ways social media companies —and the algorithms they rely on—tend to fuel conflict by amplifying extremism.

I won’t delude myself into believing these articles alone will solve the epistemic crises — the debates over fact and fiction — that might plague your dinner tables this holiday season. But knowledge is power when it comes to improving the public’s information diet. And if we all train ourselves to identify and dispel the spread of misinformation online, American democracy will be healthier in the long run.