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Protecting Yourself from Malicious Information

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

Blog Post by Richard Benack

This is the first of several blog postings on the hazards of malicious information

Many people are feeling very stressed out from watching cable news, reading social media or just seeing friends and families being divided by malicious information. It’s important to understand that much of the information we are being exposed to is designed to influence and even manipulate our emotions and psyche. Generally, there are three types of common malicious information:

Propaganda: Highly biased or misleading information intending to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view. This is often done using emotionally triggering words and images. Much of the information we see in the media falls into this category.

Misinformation: Generally, refers to the sharing of false or extremely misleading information without malicious intent. This is very common on social media where people think they are sharing real news.

Disinformation (sometimes called “fake news”): The sharing of deliberately created fake or false information with the intention of manipulating the opinions of those who see it. The goal is to hurt the psychological or spiritual state of society and the people who live in it.

Symptoms of expose to Malicious Information

Repeated exposure to malicious information can affect your life in several ways:

  1. Problems with sleep: For example, reading social media before bed can make falling asleep more difficult

  2. Political Anger: Finding yourself angry and frustrated after watching certain stories that are intended to get an emotional response

  3. Spending too much time on social media or watch news: Avoiding doing tasks that are more important because you are on Facebook or watching cable news

  4. Feeling more judgmental of yourself and others because of what you see on social media. It can become difficult to interact with people who have different views than your own

  5. You’re not connecting with people in real life. Being on social media is affecting your relationships with friends and family. This can involve spending most of your time online rather than talking with people face to face

Protecting yourself

Some ways to protect yourself from malicious information can include:

  1. Limiting time spent on social media and watching political TV. For example, set an alarm that reminds you step away from the PC or TV.

  2. Only use one device at a time. If you are using social media on your PC, don’t be watching cable news.

  3. Plan your social media and news usage. Just check Facebook once every couple of hours

  4. Take one day a week off from social media and political news.

  5. Create tech-free zones. For example, no cell phone usage at the dinner table or in restaurants.

If you are finding yourself having difficulty limiting social media use or just constantly fearful, angry or avoiding interaction with others because of information exposure, then consider talking with a counselor, psychologists, or hypnotherapist for healthy ways to deal with this information overload.

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