Checking – more important than ever

By JOHN KEREZY, Associate Professor, Media & Journalism Studies, Cuyahoga Community College

Uncertainty brings out the worst in some types of people. This is especially true with criminals, hackers, and those who run disinformation campaigns seeking to misinform us. This makes us especially vulnerable right now, as the 2020 election, Covid-19, and a president hospitalized with Coronavirus combine for a “perfect storm” of disinformation.

What’s the best way to check on thing as you see so much news coming across your phone? What steps are you taking to make sure what you are seeing is accurate?

Might you inadvertently share something that’s not true?

That’s been a key theme of this website. Here are a couple more tools you should consider adding to your media consumption practices.


Clemson University’s Media Forensics Hub has developed an interactive (and fun) quiz you can take. Each Q-and-A provides us with a bit of knowledge about internet trolls and inauthentic social media accounts. You can take that quiz here:

Scams & Hackers

At least 30,000 email users registered with the Democratic Party were subjected to a scam attack a few days ago. Below is a story about the attack.

My colleague David Mastny, director of IT Security, encourages us stay vigilant. “Cybercriminals and other hackers are always to looking for any opportunity to gain an advantage.  Be on guard against hackers who are using the confusion around working changes caused by COVID-19,” David Mastny says. “Many hackers favor social engineering attacks like phishing that use email to get you to open an attachment, click a link, or take some other action.” Here’s a link to an earlier story I wrote which includes precautionary steps you can take.

Reporters & Editors

The Poynter Institute issued an update on Sunday, October 4 with some tips. It’s linked here.

The article list five “what to watch out for” points and also links to a public service video which have produced, titled Fact Checking Covid-19 (linked below). It’s well worth the 260 seconds it takes to watch. Poynter also operates the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN), which is dedicated to bringing together fact-checkers worldwide.

Some thanks

Thank you to MARK ZIMMERMAN and GABRIELLE COLLINS of HeartFelt Radio for inviting me onto their program on September 29 to review the first Presidential Debate in Cleveland on September 28. Here’s a link to the station’s website:

Thanks to Pastor CHAD ALLEN and my friend, author JOSHUA FALTOT, for having me participate in a Facebook Live “Real Talk” event on “How the Media Tries to Polarize us.” Here’s a link to Joshua’s website and podcasts:

Here is a link to the Real Talk video:

I’ve given my “Disinformation: Destroying Democracies” talk more nearly a dozen times in the past year, mostly virtually on online social platforms since Covid-19. If you’re interested in speaking with me on the subject or having me make a presentation to a civic or community group, you can click on the link below to email me. Or you can text me at 234-542-4487.


“There is always hope when men are forced to listen to both sides; it is when they attend only to one that errors harden into prejudices.” – John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

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