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ComNetworkDENVER: Combating Viral Online Mis- and Disinformation

ComNetLOCAL Event

The ComNetworkDENVER leadership team is committed to helping our colleagues, partners, and our community stay healthy by doing what we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We also believe  there is no better time to focus on the battle against mis- and dis-information. As such, we have decided to host the event as a webinar. The event will still take place on March 18, but we’ll start at 8:30 a.m. 

We know that Coloradans get much of their information from social media – and we also know that they are vulnerable to mis- and dis-information when they do. For example, in April 2019, a Facebook ad scam targeted Coloradans and others across the country with fake promises of tax rebates for solar panels. It’s becoming increasingly easy to create fake videos, produce imposter news sites, and rapidly spread other misleading or outright false or divisive content.

But in a world where everyone’s news feed is hyper-personalized, how do we even know what Coloradans are seeing? And if we are able to get this information, what are the strategies for combating it?

Now and in the future, every communications professional will need to be literate not just in how to amplify your organization’s message online — but what to do when falsehoods and fabricated content are circulating. Come learn about the different types of mis- and dis-information, tools to discover what people are seeing, and when and how to take action — and when it’s best to wait.

The conversation will be led by Nancy Watzman, project manager for the U.S. Local News Fellowship at First Draft News, a project aimed at equipping local journalists and the community with tools to combat disinformation in the 2020 election. Colorado was one of five states selected to participate in the project – along with Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida – all identified as places where disinformation is most likely to flourish. Nancy served as founding director for the Colorado Media Project throughout 2019; previously, she worked as editor for the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy, which explored how to improve trust in democracy and concluded that a key lever is strengthening local journalism nationwide. Her career spans work with the Internet Archive, the Sunlight Foundation, the Center for Public Integrity, the Center for Responsive Politics, and the Democracy Fund. She is co-author of Is That a Politician in Your Pocket? Washington on $2 Million a Day (2004) and a contributor to The Buying of the Congress: by the Center for Public Integrity (1998).

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