TRENTON – The state this week launched a new disinformation portal meant to help people identify and vet truth-obscuring, manufactured information.

The state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness said foreign adversaries of the United States such as China, Russia and Iran, as well as extremist groups, engage in such psychological operations to sow discord.

The announcement didn't cite a particular example but did say there has been an “onslaught of activity from these entities who have recently sought to and capitalized on spreading disinformation,” presumably in connection with the war in Ukraine and other opportunities.

“In an age where the public has become increasingly dependent on online forums and social media platforms to stay informed, we all have a higher responsibility to scrutinize the information we’re consuming,” said Laurie Doran, director of the state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

The site, which is at www.njhomelandsecurity.gov/disinformation, includes checklists for screening information, such as urging people to reference legitimate organizations and fact-check claims from competing sources.

It says indicators to identify misleading postings include accounts that lack personal information or have a username that contains numbers, hashtags or emojis; include more than 100 posts a day; post through the day and night; and use more than one language, a default profile picture and misspellings.

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The site also provides reports with details on how to spot deepfakes, which are synthetic media that use artificial intelligence to generate realistic-looking video, images and audio.

“The reality is no one platform or agency has the manpower or means to track and dispel the amount of disinformation being circulated,” said Eric Tysarczyk, the NJOHSP deputy director. “With this portal, we’re now equipping the public with the tools needed to decipher the information for themselves.”

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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