Disinformation is prevalent online – particularly on social media – and is often designed to manipulate you into giving away something valuable.

Here are three recent examples of how scammers have used disinformation.

1. Charity-based scams

As we touched upon in a previous article, scammers are willing to exploit tragedy to make money. For example, pretending to collect donations for a particular cause. By tapping into such an emotional topic, it becomes easier to persuade people to part with their money.

To avoid this, don’t give money to an individual, especially if you don’t know them. Instead, donate via a registered charity.

2. Fake news around COVID treatments

Spam messages sharing disinformation soared during the pandemic, increasing more than 220 times during April 2020. One area that scammers were able to take advantage of was fake news around cures and treatments for COVID-19. 

This sort of disinformation is particularly dangerous. Not only are you wasting money on products that don’t work, but the consequences of using them could be deadly. That’s why the WHO created a resource to bust these myths.

3. Election disinformation

Ahead of any election there’s a deluge of information designed to persuade you towards or against a particular candidate. Some of this information can be false and misleading. Some might even be designed to prevent you from voting. 

Like in the run up to the 2020 US presidential election where a number of voter suppression schemes were launched. In one case, social media ads persuaded people to vote online, providing links to do so. However, online voting isn’t possible. Instead, people were being taken to phishing websites. 

When it comes to voting, always verify information from social media with official sources.

These are just three examples of disinformation scams. However the same tactics can be used in different contexts, so always be conscious of where you get your information.