Caption: Road sign image of Facebook and Twitter (geralt/pixabay)
So you’ve taken the plunge with the Pro-Truth Pledge: congratulations! Now how do you live your social media life after the pledge?
The first thing to do is post on social media about taking the pledge. You can use this Facebook sharer link, this Twitter sharer link, this LinkedIn sharer link, and this Reddit sharer link to do so. If you are active on other social media, you can share it there as well using the link to the Pro-Truth Pledge website.
Next, please add this Facebook Frame to your Facebook profile image or video, and this Twibbon to your Twitter profile image. If the standard Pro-Truth Pledge frame is not aesthetically pleasing to you fro some reason, you are welcome to use this alternative PTP Facebook Frame. Please mark the Facebook Frame as “permanent,” since the main point of the frame is to show others that you took the pledge and are comfortable being held publicly accountable for your words. It’s also a way that fellow PTP-takers can recognize each other on FB, and build community. Finally, we find it’s very beneficial for encouraging one’s Facebook friends to take the pledge as well. For example, one PTP volunteer told me that after he put up his Frame, a friend of his quickly took the pledge, and he suspects the Frame is what caused it. I know that you may have other commitments as well, and want to show it with other frames: if you want to use other frames, you can use them on top of or in addition to the Pro-Truth Pledge FB Frame, but please keep that one there.
Caption: John Kirbow’s Facebook profile with Pro-Truth Pledge Facebook Frame (Courtesy of John Kirbow)
To make the frame permanent, if you are on your computer, once you click “Try It,” you should see on the bottom of the screen an option for how long you want to keep the frame. It should state “Switch back to previous profile picture in” and give you a number of options. Simply select “Never” and that’s that! If you are on your phone, you will see options on the bottom left that give you various timing options, and you can click “Permanent” there. Any time you switch your profile picture, simply go back to this link and add the Pro-Truth Pledge Facebook Frame to your new profile picture.
For your personal Facebook account, add the statement “I have taken the Pro-Truth Pledge ProTruthPledge.org: please hold me accountable” to the “About” section of your personal Facebook profile as in this example. If you have a Facebook page, please add the same statement to the “About” section of your Facebook page as in this example. For your Twitter account, please add “Took #ProTruthPledge at ProTruthPledge.org” to your Twitter bio. For your LinkedIn profile, add that you are a “Signer” of the Pro-Truth Pledge LinkedIn organization. Click the “+” button on your experience section, put in “Signer” as title, choose “Pro-Truth Pledge” as the organization, put in your date of signing, and in the description state “I have taken the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org: please hold me accountable.” You can add additional information about why you chose to take the pledge and/or what kind of activities you are doing to advance the pledge as well. Add similar information for other social media where you have profiles. The big benefit for you of doing so is that your LinkedIn connections are notified of your new “experience” of being a signer of the pledge, spreading the word to your professional colleagues of your orientation toward truthfulness.
Then, please click “like” and “follow” on the official Facebook page of the Pro-Truth Pledge, and also the official page of Intentional Insights, the nonprofit running the Pro-Truth Pledge project. Please “follow” the Twitter account of the Pro-Truth Pledge and the Twitter account of Intentional Insights. Also, “follow” the LinkedIn page of the Pro-Truth Pledge, and the LinkedIn page of Intentional Insights. If you are active on other social media, please take a look at the home page of Intentional Insights to see other social media you can follow.
Fighting Lies and Protecting Truth on Your Profile
So now you’ve gone public: what next?
The first thing to do is get involved with the Pro-Truth Pledge social media community. Our main collaborative venue is Facebook. Facebook groups allow Pro-Truth Pledge advocates to work together in a coordinated manner to fight lies and protect the truth. So please join this Facebook group for Intentional Insights, and also this Facebook group for Global Pro-Truth Pledge-oriented activities. Anything that has to do with the pledge is best for the Pro-Truth Pledge advocates Facebook group, so make sure that anything you post there is specifically about the pledge. The Intentional Insights broad group is for content related to truth and rational thinking, in politics and other life areas. The Facebook group for Global Pro-Truth Pledge-oriented activities also has links out to local groups which you might be interested in joining in your area: find your local group there, and join it to see what’s going on in your locale.
The Facebook groups provide safe spaces to discuss lies and truth in our public discourse, and especially in politics. However, it’s also important to make an impact on your friends and family, and you taking the pledge involves a commitment to do so. Research shows that we can significantly influence those in our social networks to engage in either beneficial or non-beneficial behavior. So use your posts on social media to influence your network toward greater honesty.
It is definitely beneficial to share on all of your social media platforms the postings that you see on the official Pro-Truth Pledge and Intentional Insights pages. That gives you a double impact: not only do you spread highly accurate, fact-checked information, but you also get your network to learn about and consider investigating the Pro-Truth Pledge itself. Especially impactful for social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are truth-oriented images, and we have a whole bunch of Pro-Truth memes for you to choose from here: share away!
Caption: Meme from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Wayne Straight for Intentional Insights)
Also, look at what people share in the Intentional Insights and Pro-Truth Pledge Facebook groups. Members there range across the political spectrum and orient toward truth above all, and after seeing the feedback there, you can decide what to share and what responses to make if people challenged you on the accuracy of the piece you share.
If you want to share something that has not yet been vetted in the official Pro-Truth Pledge groups, please follow our fact-checking guidelines. Also, avoid unreliable sources: a good way to do so is to use this extension for Chrome. If you don’t use Chrome, check the cites you use against this list, and this list, and this list.
For each piece you share on Facebook, please add a version of the following wording in a P.S. to your post: “I took the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org, consider this article credible and the headline representative of the article: correct me if you think I might be mistaken, please!” An example is here. Doing so helps you come off as substantially more credible than someone else making a similar post, and thus impacting your connections to a greater extent. It also helps spread word about the pledge. Do the same sort of P.S. statement for other social media that allow you to do so, such as LinkedIn. While you can’t do the same thing for Twitter due to character limitations, what you can do on Twitter is add the hashtag #ProTruthPledge liberally, so please do so.
None of us are perfect, and sometimes our fact-checking efforts will fail. Never fear: that gives you a chance to practice the sixth behavior of the pledge (“reevaluate if my information is challenged, retract it if I cannot verify it”) and the twelfth behavior (“celebrate those who retract incorrect statements and update their beliefs toward the truth”). Publicly and gladly retract your statements. Do so both in the original statement itself, such as by editing the original Facebook post with an UPDATE at the very top and by commenting on your own Facebook post or tweet, and in a separate Facebook post and tweet announcing your retraction. State that you are following the pledge in your retractions, to model for your social network what they should do when they learn that they shared misinformation and again spread the word about the pledge.
If you reshared the piece of misinformation from someone else on social media, let that person or organization know, and ask them to retract their post, following the eighth behavior (“ask people to retract information that reliable sources have disproved even if they are my allies”). If you got the information from an online source, contact them to ask them to address the misinformation. Let them know that you are doing so in alignment with the Pro-Truth Pledge that you have taken, and if your efforts to get them to correct their statements succeeds, encourage them to take the pledge as well.
Fighting Misinformation Shared by Others
So far, we’ve talked about your own social media profile. What about when your friends and family post what you suspect to be misinformation?
Do not confront them with evidence about them sharing misinformation. Research suggests that, for the large majority of the population, being confronted with the evidence results in negative emotions, shutting down thinking and inspiring defensive or aggressive responses. At that point, you lost: they will not change their minds.
Instead, use curiosity to find out where they learned about that information. Ask them if they consider the source and the evidence credible. Engage them in a conversation about what it means to use credible sources and quality evidence. Establish a sense of trust and shared goals, and get them to agree that the most important thing is the facts, regardless of ideology.
Caption: Meme indicating that facts are the most important thing, not ideology, from the Pro-Truth meme set (Made by Lexie Holliday for Intentional Insights)
In the course of the conversation, once they feel safe, you may or may not share some of the evidence you may have about their post being misinformation. It’s best if they find the evidence on their own through the questions you ask, rather than being presented with the evidence by you. Their own search for evidence will help teach them the skills of fact-checking and online research, rather than just you providing them with the facts.
Note in the course of the conversation that you are following the ninth behavior of the pledge, “ask people to retract information that reliable sources have disproved even if they are my allies,” and the tenth behavior, “compassionately inform those around me to stop using unreliable sources even if these sources support my opinion.” Again, you are modeling what you preach, and also sharing about the pledge in the process. For the behavioral science research underlying this approach, and an example of this approach in play in a high-stakes public situation, see this article.
The interaction described above takes some patience and effort. It requires you to have a decent pre-existing relationship with that person, and for the other person to care at least somewhat about the truth.
What if it’s your uncle who always posts deceptive articles from Breitbart or your cousin who posts misleading memes from OccupyDemocrats, and you know based on past discussions that they won’t change their behavior? What about if it’s someone you barely know from high school, and you doubt that the effort to change their mind is going to be successful, or you simply don’t want to put in the time and effort into influencing them?
Well, there’s a meme for that. Posting a meme takes a few seconds, and makes quite a big impact. Research shows that information shared in a visual format is significantly more effective at combatting misinformation than textual information. Another study demonstrated that a major motivator for lying stems from people trying to gain the benefits of deceptive behavior while still thinking of themselves as honest. Posting a meme questioning people’s honesty thus represents an excellent, science-based way of fighting misinformation.
There are a number of Pro-Truth memes at various levels of escalation. Here is one soft one, for people with whom you have a higher concern for maintaining relationships. Say it’s your cousin who you see occasionally at family events, and with whom you want to be cordial.
Caption: Meme questioning whether something was fact-checked featuring Sherlock Holmes from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Wayne Straight for Intentional Insights)
Let’s say your cousin posted something more ridiculous than usual, and you want to up the ante. Here’s the meme to use.
Caption: Meme questioning whether something was fact-checked featuring gnomes from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Wayne Straight for Intentional Insights)
Here is a set of memes for someone whose good opinion you don’t really care about, where your primary concern is to convince onlookers to avoid believing in the post made by the person.
Caption: Meme criticizing alternative facts from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Jane A. Gordon for Intentional Insights)
Caption: Meme criticizing lies in politics from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Ed Coolidge for Intentional Insights)
Caption: Meme criticizing lies in politics from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Jane A. Gordon and Steven Carr for Intentional Insights)
Caption: Meme criticizing the sharing of fake news from the Pro-Truth meme set (Created by Lau Guerreiro for Intentional Insights)
The latter one is the most powerful, and most intense. For more guidelines in how to address people with irrational beliefs, see this article.
Lobbying Public Figures on Social Media
A key aspect of the Pro-Truth Pledge involves encouraging public figures and organizations to take it. You can do that through social media.
Twitter is a highly useful venue for this regard, as it’s the most public forum available. You can tweet to any politician or other public figure “[email protected][twitter handle] please take #ProTruthPledge at ProTruthPledge.org to fight #fakenews and #alternativefacts @ProTruthPledge” or an adapted version of this message. Keep those hashtags, they are valuable for drawing attention to your message. You can, for example, send a tweet a day to someone from this Twitter list of US congressmembers, or this list of NBC correspondents, and also find lists of your own. Consider finding a list of reporters for your local paper or TV channel, or your local politicians, and tweeting them.
Facebook is also useful, though less so, since it is not as publicly visible. There, what you would want to do is go to the pages of politicians such as from this list, or media such as from this list. Then, send them a message, saying something like “@ please take #ProTruthPledge at ProTruthPledge.org to fight #fakenews and protect #truth and #facts” and also post this in a comment on their pinned post or latest post.
The same strategies apply to organizations and public figures on LinkedIn, as well as all other social media.
We know these strategies work: a number of public figures have been convinced to take the pledge through reaching out to them on social media. For example, one of our volunteers has described how whenever anyone invites him to “like” a Facebook page from a politician, he asks whether that individual have taken the pledge. After a couple of exchanges back and forth, where he explains the pledge and follows up, about a quarter end up taking the pledge. Imagine what would happen if a quarter of all the politicians whose Facebook pages you were invited to like end up taking the pledge!
Following strategies will enable you to be highly effective in fighting lies and promoting truth on social media. Let us know what your experience is like and what questions you have!