More than 11,000 people around the world, including over 1,000 politicians, have signed the “Pro-Truth Pledge” promising to “share, honor, and encourage truth” in an effort to stop the spread of misinformation and promote civility in politics.
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, a behavioral science expert and co-founder of the Pro-Truth Pledge, told the Daily Caller that among other changes, the rise of social media has shifted the political landscape and helped give rise to the increasing spread of misinformation. He sees this as a major issue and seeks to enact change by encouraging people to sign the Pro-Truth Pledge.
— Dr. Gleb Tsipursky (@Gleb_Tsipursky) February 17, 2019
“We can use behavioral science, cognitive neuroscience, and behavioral economics to take specific steps to address these problems,” Tsipursky told the Daily Caller. “And that’s what the pro-truth movement is about.” (RELATED: Tucker Carlson: Media Is Colluding With Power By Banning ‘Harmful Misinformation’)
When someone signs the Pro-Truth Pledge, they promise to take 12 specific steps to help stop the spread of misinformation. Those steps include verifying information before sharing it, acknowledging when others share facts despite differences in opinion, and celebrating those who retract misinformation and “update their beliefs toward the truth.”
The pro-truth website tracks who signs the pledge, allowing visitors to search by address and find the number of constituents who have signed the pledge per representative. It also provides social media contacts for each representative so that users can contact a politician and encourage them to sign the pledge.
Public figures and important groups who have signed the pledge are designated with a star on the website. Notable figures who have taken the pledge include Ohio representative Tim Ryan, Pennsylvania representative Matt Cartwright, former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, and other politicians and members of Congress.
Tsipursky said that there is a noticeable change in behavior among those who sign the pledge.
“We’ve noticed that first of all, politicians tend to share less, they make less frequent posts on social media, and their posts are more evidence-backed” after they take the pledge, Tsipursky explained. “We’ve also seen politicians take back their posts.”
Closer races are more likely to be affected by the pledge due to pressure from constituents, Tsipursky told the Daily Caller. “The more people you have signing it, the more close races you will see being influenced to be more truthful.” After signing the pledge, people are encouraged to put pressure on representatives to do the same and in closer races, that pressure is amplified.
“In closer races … smaller amounts of people matter more,” Tsipursky added. “So if we have, let’s say 5% of the people in a certain district signing the Pro-Truth Pledge and paying attention to what’s happening … you can go to a politician and say, here’s how many of your constituents signed it.”
Several thousand people can make or break a close race for a politician, he said, meaning there’s more pressure on those politicians to sign the pledge and be held accountable.
“I think in districts where either party has a substantial advantage … those will not be races where the Pro-Truth Pledge will make much of a difference,” he added.
“And so we need politicians who are more oriented towards truthfulness winning those races that are important – swing races that really shape legislatures and shape politics at all levels,” Tsipursky said. “And that will be really important because they will be held accountable.”