28 January, 2021

Fighting disinformation? Eighteen free weapons for your arsenal.

icon disinformation,Ethnic media services,First Draft,Google Fact Check Tools,Harmony Square,Harvard Kennedy School,Internews,McCain Institute,media manipulation
Eighteen free tools to fight disinformation.

Fighting disinformation? Use all the tools in your arsenal. Here are eighteen of the best.

Disinformation basics

Disinformation attacks involve these tactics according to Harmony Square:
- Trolling people and deliberately provoking people to react emotionally to evoke outrage
- Exploiting emotional language to make people afraid or angry about a particular topic
- Artificially amplify the reach and popularity of messages with social media bots or by buying fake followers
- Creating and spreading conspiracy theories by blaming a small, secretive and nefarious organization for events going on in the world
- Polarizing audiences by deliberately emphasizing and magnifying inter-group differences


It important to understand what has been proven to work against disinformation and the resources available.
- Asymmetrical. It is hard to dislodge disinformation once it has been accepted. It costs almost ten times as much to fight disinformation as it does to create it.
- Sticky. Repeating disinformation in order to refute it, only entrenches it further.
- Inoculate. Help people build resistance against disinformation by showing them how to recognize it.
- Build trust. People are more likely to trust local journalism rather than an unknown online source.
- Fact check. Tools that help check the accuracy of a statement are valuable.

Eighteen weapons in the fight against disinformation compiled by DemLabs.


Internews combats misinformation by strengthening local media, helping evidence-based, thoughtful reporting compete with disinformation. It offers training on fact-checking, develops rumor-tracking toolkits, provides investigative journalism skills. Internews supports news consumers by developing media and information literacy programs, so individuals can better make their own determinations about what is true and what is false. "Information poverty and inequality—where citizens have limited or no access to high-quality, local information—limits freedom of expression and reduces informed choice." [ Support ]

First Draft

First Draft works to empower people with knowledge and tools to build resilience against harmful, false, and misleading information. Today, we need access to the truth more than ever before. But in this polluted information environment, it’s never been harder to know what to trust, and never easier to be misled. Disinformation is targeting and damaging our communities, all around the world. First Draft protects communities from harmful misinformation by empower people with the knowledge, understanding, and tools needed to outsmart false and misleading information. [ Subscribe ]

The Psychology of Misinformation: The mental shortcuts, confusions, and illusions that encourage us to believe things that aren’t true — can tell us a lot about how to prevent its harmful effects. Our psychology is what affects whether corrections work, what we should teach in media literacy courses, and why we’re vulnerable to misinformation in the first place.
Inoculation: Also known as ‘pre-bunking’, refers to techniques that build pre-emptive resistance to misinformation. Like a vaccine, it works by exposing people to examples of misinformation, or misinformation techniques, to help them recognize and reject them in the future.

Ethnic Media Services develops communications projects with underserved groups that deepen their engagement with and amplify their voice in the public realm.

Ethnic Media Services

Ethnic Media Services increases the capacity of ethnic news outlets in the U.S. to inform and engage diverse audiences on broader public issues. It develops communications projects with underserved groups that deepen their engagement with and amplify their voice in the public realm.

EMS holds regular, timely briefings for journalists which are recorded and freely shared such as the recent round table on "The Challenges of Vaccine Distribution" which featured Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, SS, and Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

McCain Institute

McCain Institute advances character-driven leadership based on security, economic opportunity, freedom and human dignity. Their program We Hold These Truths helps consumers understand guard against disinformation. [ Support ]

Ask Questions
Before you share an article, make sure you understand the background of who wrote it. Check who the author and publisher are. Do they have relevant expertise in the field? do they examine a wide variety of perspectives? It can also be helpful to briefly review their political leanings, as both sides of the political spectrum are prone to infusing bias into their work, intentionally and unintentionally. 

Check your sources
Before you share an article, check your sources. Are other news outlets who are publishing the same news? Use these trusted fact checking websites:
SNOPES - "When misinformation obscures the truth and readers don’t know what to trust, Snopes’ fact-checking and original, investigative reporting lights the way to evidence-based and contextualized analysis. We always link to and document our sources so readers are empowered to do independent research and make up their own minds."
Fact Check - "A nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases."
PolitiFact - "A fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others on its Truth-O-Meter."


Bellingcat is an independent international collective of researchers, investigators and citizen journalists using open source and social media investigation to probe a variety of subjects – from Mexican drug lords and crimes against humanity, to tracking the use of chemical weapons and conflicts worldwide. With staff and contributors in more than 20 countries around the world, we operate in a unique field where advanced technology, forensic research, journalism, investigations, transparency and accountability come together. [Support]

Full Fact is a team of independent fact checkers and campaigners who find, expose and counter the harm it does.

Full Fact

Full Fact is a team of independent fact checkers who find, expose and counter the harm it does.
- fact check claims made by politicians, public institutions and journalists, as well as viral content online. We all deserve information we can trust.
- follow up with fact checks. By asking people to correct the record when they get things wrong, we can stop and reduce the spread of bad information.
- develops technology and new research to spot repeated claims, and find out how bad information can be tackled at a global scale.
- campaigns for change that will make bad information rarer and less harmful such as updating election laws to protect against misleading claims.
[ Support ]

Google Fact Check Tools

These tools to facilitate the work of fact checkers, journalists and researchers, but neither endorses nor creates any of these fact checks.
Fact Check Explorer - This tool allows you to easily browse and search for fact checks. For example, you can search for a politician's statement, or for a topic. You can also restrict results to a specific publisher. You can search by keywords and see a list of matching claims and the corresponding fact checks.
Fact Check Markup Tool - This tool makes it easier to create ClaimReview markup, by allowing markup to be submitted via a simple web form without the need to add anything to the article itself. Markup created with this tool will be treated the same as markup that was embedded in the article directly.

Playing the Harmony Square game helps build resistance against disinformation.

Harmony Square

Harmony Square is a free, online game that helps players understand how disinformation works in a light-hearted way to build people's resistance against real disinformation.

"The goal of the game is to expose the tactics and manipulation techniques that are used to mislead people, build up a following, or exploit societal tensions for political purposes. Harmony Square works as a psychological “vaccine” against disinformation: playing it builds cognitive resistance against common forms of manipulation that you may encounter online. It improves people’s ability to spot manipulation techniques in social media posts, increases their confidence in spotting such techniques, and reduces their willingness to share manipulative content with people in their network."

Harmony Square was developed by Jon Roozenbeek and Sander Van Der Linden at the Dept. of Psychology at Cambridge University In collaboration with the DROG, design agency Gusmanson, Park Advisors, the U.S. Dept. of State’s Global Engagement Center and the Dept. of Homeland Security.


Meedan is a technology non-profit that builds software and initiatives to strengthen global journalism, digital literacy and accessibility of information for the world. In 2020, online misinformation was one of the most daunting obstacles in the world’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 is already witnessing a wave of COVID-19 vaccine related misinformation. They offer a report on the nuances and the complexities of the misinformation landscape and what to expect in 2021. [ Support ]

Misinformation produces content that is “fast-reviewed” by misinformation scientists and scholars, released under open access licensing, and geared towards emphasizing real-world implications.

Misinformation Review

The Harvard Kennedy School publishes Misinformation Review. "Content is produced and “fast-reviewed” by misinformation scientists and scholars, released under open access licensing, and geared towards emphasizing real-world implications. The content is targeted towards a specialized audience of researchers, journalists, fact-checkers, educators, policy makers, and other practitioners working in the information, media, and platform landscape."

Technology & Social Change Project

Dr. Joan Donovan (@BostonJoan) at the Shorenstein Center leads The Technology and Social Change Project (TaSC). It explores media manipulation as a means to control public conversation, derail democracy, and disrupt society. TaSC conducts research, develops methods, and facilitates workshops for journalists, policy makers, technologists, and civil society organizations on how to detect, document, and debunk media manipulation campaigns. 

Media Manipulation Casebook

"The Media Manipulation Casebook is a digital research platform linking together theory, methods, and practice for mapping media manipulation and disinformation campaigns. This resource is intended for researchers, journalists, technologists, policymakers, educators, and civil society organizers who want to learn about detecting, documenting, describing, and debunking misinformation."

Global Engagement Center - United States Department of State

The Global Engagement Center leads U.S. inter-agency efforts to proactively address foreign adversaries’ attempts to use disinformation and propaganda to undermine U.S. interests. It leads and coordinates Federal Government efforts to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining or influencing the policies, security, or stability of the United States and its allies.

Storytelling the disinformation shows how disinformation is often packaged as fairy tales.

EU VS Disinfo

EUvsDisinfo increases public awareness and understanding of the Kremlin’s disinformation operations, and to help the public develop resistance to digital information and media manipulation. Storytelling the Disinformation is a resource that explains how storytelling is used to spread disinformation.

Eyewitness Media Hub

Eyewitness Media Hub encourages broadcasters and publishers to adhere to a set of industry-wide standards when securing the rights to use eyewitness media. Helps eyewitnesses make informed decisions when granting permission for their content to be used. Advises publishers, social networks and audiences on the impact of distributing graphic, sensitive or upsetting imagery.

Dig Deeper

Dig Deeper works with media organizations, NGOs, start-ups, academic institutions and technology companies with a focus on digital strategy, workflows, transformation and training.

Follow the facts. Don't be deceived by disinformation.

Takeaway: Guard against disinformation and being distracted from the facts. Use these tools to fight disinformation and let us know of others we might have missed. Thanks.


Image credit: Political Cartoons

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