US online media outlet The Verge released a comprehensive guide this month: ‘How to fight lies, tricks and chaos online.’ The guide not only helps readers spot fake news, half-truths and ‘ragebait’, but also identify when they should take a step back and consider a piece of content more carefully. The Verge also gives readers insights into how reputable news organizations actually operate, how to fact-check sources, how to evaluate an outlet’s overall credibility, and even how to evaluate a crowdfunding project’s viability before investing. 

The Verge isn’t the first to publish a misinformation-spotting guide (see the News Literacy Project, Google’s media literacy program for kids and the Data & Society nonprofit). And you don’t need to be in media to learn from this example. Here are two jump-off points:

Factual healing. This guide taps into a critical opportunity we’ve identified in our 2020 Trend Report as FACTUAL HEALING. Today, it feels like fewer truths are agreed upon than ever before: politically, culturally… even clear-cut, scientific evidence is in dispute, with ‘climate deniers’ raising their voices. Consumers feel destabilized and confused. This provides an opportunity for brands to swoop in and become a trusted source for straight-up facts and clarification in a specific domain. Pinterest, for instance, is combating anti-vaxxers by supplying data from reliable public health orgs, and removing misinformation. Is there a frequent target of misinformation in your industry? If so, can you arm customers with reliable information and expert perspectives?

Whack-a-fact. Of course, bringing down false narratives and ‘alternative facts’ can feel like whack-a-mole: as one piece of fake news is dismantled, countless others are springing up online at the same time. Can you give your customers access to continuously-updating information and tools to ensure they’re a step ahead of online deceit at any moment? See how BotSlayer is helping consumers and journalists alike spot coordinated misinformation campaigns while they’re happening, or how Planned Parenthood provides real-time updates on changing abortion laws and facilities in each US state. Forgive the hyperbole, but the battle for truth is an eternal one. On the bright side, that makes it a long term opportunity for you to make a difference!

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