POLL: Veterans, U.S. service members are a top target for disinformation – and our best weapon against it

“Just because you take your uniform off, doesn’t mean your oath ends.

Garrett Cathcart, veteran and director of More Perfect Union

That’s something we’ve heard from Garrett and veterans like him during Community Conversations around the country. And it’s one of the top reasons we believe they could be our best weapon against disinformation and the polarization it exacerbates. Veterans and service members, whether they know it or not, are on the frontlines of the information war, and should be educated and empowered to fight against it. Our recent poll of veterans, active-duty service members and their families show they are often the target of such disinformation campaigns and it’s among their top concerns. 

Community Conversations polled 1,011 service members, veterans, and their family members to uncover opinions and beliefs about disinformation online and related topics.  Veterans made up the majority of our survey universe at 78% of the sample, with 8% active duty service members, and 14% those who live with a veteran or service member.

Here are some of the findings:

  • 9 in 10 respondents are concerned about disinformation, including majorities of all subgroups (98% of Democrats, 87% of Republicans)
  • 7 in 10 respondents have gotten into a political argument, both online and in-person, in the past year. 
  • 47% say they have gotten into multiple political arguments online, with lower numbers for active duty service members (30% several times), regardless of political affiliation. 
  • 1 in 3 of respondents (32%) say that it can be justified for citizens to take violent action against the government. While this mirrors findings from a nationwide survey of Americans last month, the trend is even more concerning with the veteran population who are trained to act. 

At Community Conversations, we’ve been talking to veterans in face-to-face meetings about what they can do to take on disinformation and polarization in their feeds and beyond. From checking biases, to checking sources, and seeking out local news sources off of Twitter and Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, we’ve been sharing solutions and bringing attention to the problem. Watch our full conversation here with Cathcart and Kristofer Goldsmith, CEO Sparverius and Iraq war vet.

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