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Role of disinformation, 'fake news' in Capitol riot

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Posted at 2:53 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 19:02:15-05

NORFOLK, Va. - One of the factors that led to Wednesday's riot at the Capitol - the growing spread of disinformation over the years, according to Helen Lee Bouygues.

As President of the Reboot Foundation, Bouygues studies critical thinking and fake news.

According to Bouygues, more than a third of the U.S. population is now skeptical about what they read and hear from institutional sources, and most now get their information from social media.

"When over 90% of the population gets their information via social media and not directly from sources like yourself," she told News 3, "there is too little reflection or a moment to take a step back and say, 'What could an opposing view be?' and I think that's why we're seeing these extreme situations."

Trying to overcome the spread of misinformation and disinformation is challenging.

"There have been studies that show that even if your initial inclination is to not believe something, if you are constantly pounded with false information, you start believing it," said Bouygues.

But she says there are ways to combat the issue.

One of the most crucial is teaching media literacy in schools.

She says it's also important for people not to rely on one source of information, resist clicking on initial links when searching online and to learn more about common fake news tactics.

Related: Police, FBI ask public to help identify persons of interest who stormed Capitol