Russian and Ukranian troops are not only clashing physically, they're having a war of words. A local expert says you'll want to be skeptical of what you read and watch.
"We are living in a very information insecure environment that the speed with which we're seeing photos, videos, reports circulating around this conflict. It's unprecedented in human history," Asst. Professor of Political Science Dr. Gregory Winger said.
Many of us are rapidly learning information about Russia's invasion into Ukraine and a large part of the knowledge is coming to us through social media. Dr. Winger says we're seeing two motives play out.
"These two overlapping contests are the question of the contest for narrative and the contest of wills," he said.
Dr. Winger says Russia is a master player in the use of disinformation, which is the spread of false information being promoted with the intent of misleading. He says Russia has been doing that before the Internet even existed, going back hundreds of years. In the contest for narrative, Dr. Winger says they're using a disingenuous standpoint.
"From their perspective, that this is a defensive operation," he said. "A lot of that is completely false."
As for the contest of wills, which concerns the morale of the people and their willingness to fight, Dr. Winger says Russia is trying to break down Ukraine's will to resist by exaggerating how well military operations are going. But Ukraine is playing into the contest of wills as well.
"Ukraine as well is putting out disinformation to also contest narratives and wills, and specifically to argue that fighting is going potentially better than it may or may not be," he said.
Back at home, Dr. Winger commended U.S. predictions. Saying, even with its checkered past, the U.S. intelligence community is proving to be accurate in its findings dating back to the fall.
"In the lead up to this Ukrainian invasion, we had the American intelligence community gathering extremely vital, accurate information and then making it publicly available to expose and diffuse disinformation campaigns," he said.
As you see information about the invasion, Dr. Winger says the best thing you can do is check your sources. Storied news operations like the BBC, Reuters and the Associated Press have a long track record of accuracy. He also suggests researching information before you re-post it.