Apr 22 '20

Managing Misinformation in the Midst of a Pandemic

In a public health crisis, timely, reliable and trustworthy information is critical to safeguarding people’s health and well-being. In this episode, we discuss what credit unions can do to combat the spread of disinformation and misinformation, and sustain the level of trust they’ve built with their communities and their members. Plus, we discuss some common scams that we’re seeing and how to protect against them.

Holly Fearing

(00:11): Hello everyone. And welcome to the Filene fill-in. I'm Holly Fearing with Filene. The Filene Fill-in is the podcast where we fill you in on what's been going on here at Filene's homebase and out and about in the financial services world. Ed Filene once said, "the only way to get rid of a wrong theory is to understand it, but this requires fact-finding. And those who are trembling in the throws of hatred are in a poor position to find, and to recognize the facts." Our thanks to Taylor for finding this most appropriate quote of Ed's in his 1931 book successful living in this machine age. Page 108, for those who want to fact check us. In a public health crisis, timely, reliable, and trustworthy information is critical to safeguarding people's health and well-being. Unfortunately, the widespread adoption of digital media and information technologies today has made it easier and faster to produce, disseminate, and be exposed to false or manipulated content. From simple misinformation, to conspiracy theories, to hate speech.

(01:25): Our research fellow for the Center of Excellence for Emerging Technology, Bill Mauer of UC Irvine, has professed through his work with us that credit unions have a great role to play in lessening consumer anxieties, by reassuring their members fighting to protect their communities and making wise decisions about our future. Bill returns to another episode of our podcast with Taylor and I, in which we are most fortunate to be joined by Dr. Joan Donovan, director of the technology and social change research project at the Shorenstein Center on Media Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. In this episode, we discuss what credit unions can do to combat the spread of disinformation and misinformation and sustain the level of trust they've built with their communities and their members. We discuss some common scams that we're seeing and how to protect against them. We talk about some tangible ways credit unions can deal with the spread of misinformation, if it is happening on their digital and social platforms. Find out why Joan says local and redundant information is so valuable right now, and stick around for recommended trusted sources of information from our experts, which I'll also put in the show notes. And then stay till the very, very end for a special coronavirus song from Bill. And that's no lie.

(02:39): So thank you again so much, Joan and Bill, for taking time to talk to us today about dis and misinformation. This is a topic that is in the minds of so many of us right now, and I'm sure our credit union listeners are struggling with this challenge as well. So let's just jump in right away with a hot topic. Joan, can you tell us what, what really does the role technology and social media play in spreading misinformation?

Joan Donovan

(03:09): Yeah. So, when I think about misinformation online, sometimes it's just rumors, sometimes it's people speculating rather dangerously about a specific topic. It could be scams that people are trying to run and that other people are sharing by mistake. Right? Think about like, you think you're going to get a good deal on, you know, uh, some product you share the link, you later find out that it was not actually what you thought you were buying, or it was a credit card scan. So misinformation is really sharing information that is bad, but doesn't have any specific intent behind it. When we talk about disinformation though, we're thinking about something a little bit different, which is that sharing of mistruths or false hoods intentionally, usually for some kind of political gain. But disinformation has become a really important topic in the last I'd say four years or so, because we are obviously seeing many more people using the internet to get information, to make decisions.

(04:30): And we've seen a whole host of different kinds of people with pretty negative intentions using internet technologies, platforms and social media to pretend to be people that they're not. To share information that is flat out lies, including making false associations between certain politicians and political and their political beliefs. And we've seen them try to hide their intent. I can give you another example. I study right-wing movements online, particularly white supremacists and the reason why we study these groups is because they are bad actors and their intent is usually a particularly harmful. And they often have to hide who they are or hide what they're doing in order to stay on platforms. And so the techniques that they're using in order to harass Black and Brown people, Asian people, they often will sometimes even masquerade as being groups of Black people, Brown people, or Asian people in order to get away with the kind of harassment that they want to do or they use other techniques for hiding their intent. And so social media though has played a pretty big role in normalizing this and making it possible. And so when we think about mis and disinformation online, you're first and foremost, looking at the design of platforms, and if that communication infrastructure actually enables media manipulation in certain ways. And which ways that these platforms and social media companies should be held more accountable for the products they produce.

Holly Fearing

(06:26): And so we're all on the same page here, when you are speaking of misinformation, what, what exactly does that mean in this context?

Joan Donovan

(06:37): So for instance, like if we were talking about misinformation and scams there are, well, I should say that when I was giving testimony in front of Congress about manipulation and scams online, one of the questions they had for me was about elder abuse and about the ways in which elderly people are essentially engaging with Facebook thinking that the products that are being shown through the advertising on Facebook are true and real products. And it was same time when you look at the, some of the things that elderly people are being advertised on social media, they would fall into the category of misinformation. This might be insurance that doesn't exist. It could be credit card consolidation, reverse mortgages that are at very high interest rates. And so they may even not buy into those products, but they might share them thinking someone in their network or someone in their family would benefit from them. And so when we talk about misinformation sometimes we talk we're referencing not just the type of content, but also the, the techniques by which the person placing the content online are hiding who they are.

Holly Fearing

(08:02): And you have done, I was just looking at your, your background a little bit, and you're working on a project it's really interesting. Looking at providing information for organizations on how to detect document, debunk these media manipulation campaigns. Can you talk a little bit about your areas of expertise in your study in that area?

Joan Donovan

(08:29): Yeah, so right now we're putting together what we're calling the media manipulation casebook, and the casebook is just in our mind a research warehouse in a way. It's like all the places in which we want to prepare our case study so that we can then generate insights across all of these cases. So we want to look at the actors behind media manipulation, the content that tends to get served and media manipulation attempts, as well as the behaviors of networks who share disinformation. And the casebooks is a research platform first and foremost, where we're actually inviting in other researchers to write up case studies of things that they're seeing in their networks and how it might be affecting society in a, in a more broader context. We're also developing a vocabulary so that we have some terms for, general terms that researchers can use across the field.

(09:37): We've looked at the history of cybersecurity and thought a lot about how does the term like phishing become widely known as, you know, email scan that try to get you to type in your password and your, your credentials into, into a fake website. So we're thinking about, okay, fishing is a thing, what is the, the equivalent tactic on social media? It might be trying to get you to type in your credentials in order to get some free product or to get access to another website. And so we're trying to get a sense of how people are being manipulated, what the tactics are, and then provide the researchers, and others, a way to talk about information security that feels contemporary and well-suited to the situation.

Taylor C. Nelms

(10:36): And Joan, speaking of, sort of the contemporary situation, you've recently written about the, the ways that the Coronavirus pandemic and various associated crises that have surrounded it have really become a channel, or a topic, a site for the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation. You've talked about this so-called infodemic as the, the world health organization has, has called this, this problem. Can you tell us a little bit about what, what is an infodemic and what makes this contemporary moment, you know, the novel coronavirus pandemic an especially dangerous time for misinformation?

Joan Donovan

(11:18): The piece that I wrote was in MIT tech review, and I'm going to be doing a column for them once a month about elections and misinformation, but of course could not avoid understanding how COVID-19 is perhaps going to make it really difficult for us to have fair and transparent elections. When so much of our information scape is taken up by the pandemic. And for good reason. One of the things though that I thought was interesting as a sociologist, was that the WHO, the WHO, and CDC were both pointing at a problem that we've known for a long time, which is that scientists need clear channels of communication and social media has made it more difficult to circulate medical advice because of the amount of information, the sheer amount of information that's out there. So most of the major Silicon Valley companies like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Reddit, are now serving essentially knowledge panels or interstitials that point to directions from the WHO and the CDC immediately.

(12:44): When you start to look for the keywords of Coronavirus, COVID-19 even, even other less savory keywords around this, like Wu Han flu or Chinese Coronavirus. And they're doing that in an effort to make sure that people get the current medical recommendations. The huge challenge right now, though, is that people actually need something different. We need local, and specific, and timely information. So if you get the World Health Organization recommendations on how to wash your hands, that doesn't necessarily answer the question, where can I get tested in my town? And, so one of the recommendations that I was making in that article was to say social media companies, have built out a pretty large infrastructure for targeted advertising, that does include lots of location data. And I was thinking if we were to repurpose some of this infrastructure, advertising infrastructure, across these different websites, we could potentially help people solve the problem of getting timely, relevant, local information. The, the big issue is that right now we have somewhere near 70,000, if not more, domains registered with keywords related to the virus, and many of these are scams. And so we don't want people running in the scams when they're seeking health information in particular, because it could be your money or your life.

Holly Fearing

(14:30): Bill, I was hoping you could throw in your thoughts now around all of this in context with financial institutions, in particular credit unions, and their role of being trustworthy sources of information for their members and in their communities. What concerns do you have for them in the midst of this evolving infodemic crisis as Joan just described?

Bill Maurer

(14:59): Yeah, no, it's a great question because we have, you know, a bunch of demics going on at once. We have a pandemic, we have an infodemic and we're rapidly careening into a financial crisis as well. And it's not going to be a replay of 2008/2009, but it already has some similar features. And if we think back to, to the financial crisis in 2008/2009, you know, financial institutions played a very large role in, in the setting up the preconditions for that crisis by preying on people's desires for home ownership and offering mortgages with teaser rates, bundling up those mortgages for the secondary market and so on. And then behaving very badly when people were foreclosing. And so coming out during, and coming out of the financial crisis, there was an awful lot of everyday distrust of financial institutions because of their role in helping to create that crisis.

(16:04): Now it, it, it's a bit different, but you know, we're not seeing, a kind of liquidity crisis caused by crazy speculation on, you know, worthless mortgage paper on the secondary market. Instead we're seeing this very bizarre thing. A hiatus, right? A pause. We're sort of pushing the pause button on the entire economy which is now having these rippling effects that are affecting everybody's lives. So a lot of people are experiencing incredible precarity. A lot of people are already unemployed or see a horizon of unemployment in their future and are starting to worry a lot about, about their money and their finances. And banks and credit unions, whenever you're talking about money and finances, are going to be front and center in people's minds again. So now is the time for them to start demonstrating that they can be trustworthy partners as people navigate these new challenges. So for example, you know, if you take someone who had been thinking about buying a home, sort of upper middle class person before the pandemic really started or entering into it, you know they're now in a world where they're seeing on the news that interest rates have been slashed for banks, and yet they're seeing mortgage rates stayed the same or creep up, right? That's not the kind of thing that's going to engender trust in one's financial institutions. And for those living more precarious lives, who, you know for whom homeownership wasn't even on the horizon, they're now seeing things like late fees, minimum balance fees. They're seeing loan payments come due that they know they can't afford. They're having to look at which bills to pay and when, given their own experience of, of their own economic and financial lives.

(18:04): And so, you know, there are things right now that I think that credit unions in particular could jump in and start doing. And I think some of them are. Things like giving an interest holiday on mortgages or student loans, or other kinds of loans. Providing new products like small dollar bridge loans so that people aren't driven to, to you know payday lenders or pawn shops or, or other fringe banking services. And those are things that I think, you know, a lot of folks in the credit union system are now talking about, but we probably need to see some well-publicized action at that level. The other thing happening to, and I think this has already been alluded to a little bit, is that a lot of the scammers who are getting active now around the pandemic and concerns of over the Coronavirus, are, are financial scammers and are either trying to get people to pay for things that are worthless or that don't even exist, right? Like, "click here and you'll get six rolls of toilet paper shipped to your house," or you know, "visit this website and enter your information for exclusive access to the new, you know, Coronavirus vaccine." Right? So either that kind of thing or it's the sort of stuff of, you know, "get tips on where to put your money now! The stock market is tumbling but here are seven stocks that you should know about and you need to invest in if you're gonna gonna weather this storm." So especially because there are so many financial scams and payment related scams going on I think it would be great for credit unions to provide their members with, you know, some information about those things, to be alert for and also just reminding their members of basic, you know, basic kind of hygiene when you're online. Right? If you don't recognize the sender of an email, don't click the link, that kind of thing.

Holly Fearing

(20:04): So as credit unions are seeing more scams hitting their, their communities, what, what is their role in, in protecting truth and stopping that spread of misinformation? And what's the best way to approach that?

Bill Maurer

(20:21): I think the, you know, the first step for credit unions is just to be aware of what's going on, right? And so they either need to be gathering some of their own information on what scams are targeting their members. And they can do that just by, you know, talking to their own members or talking to their own employees, or, you know, somehow doing a kind of survey of that stuff. Or they can just visit the websites of the various state and federal government agencies that are helping to track these things and just be aware of them. So, for example, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau maintains a good website and has information on scams. The SEC has been tracking investment related scams and fraud related to the, to the COVID-19 pandemic. I always go to the Atlanta Fed, the Atlanta Federal Reserve, runs the payments risk center, which keeps an eye on risks related to how we pay for things right to credit and debit cards, to PayPal, to Venmo, and also keeps track of, and posts information on various risks that consumers face from payment fraud and, and payment scams. So, you know, if credit unions kids kind of get together and, and compile some of these things that would be a very useful resource in addition to, again, just the very basic reiteration of stuff that people already know, but don't always follow and especially don't follow when they're in a crisis situation. Right? Don't share your credentials with anyone you don't know. Check, you know, check to make sure it's really your credit union calling before you hand over your social security number and so on.

Holly Fearing

(22:06): Right. And, and Joan, I was wondering if you had any specific tips for these kinds of organizations, credit unions, or any organization really for how to recognize and call out misinformation when they see it.

Joan Donovan

(22:22): Yeah, I think Bill's right. One of the things that we've been studying and challenged by is the amount of peripheral information people are seeking in the wake of COVID-19 and coronavirus. So, platform companies are doing their best to make sure that anybody that gets any information related to the disease or the virus is getting true and correct information. That's not the case when people are looking for information about how to get a stimulus check or how to access unemployment and, you know, any information about loans in particular. One of the things that we're seeing in newly registered domains are the uses of COVID-19 married with another keyword like job loss or loan or debt. And these are domains, many of them are just parked right now. They're sort of waiting for a scammer to, to fill them with information, but these are things that you might see on your social media. Of course, you might see a post from a friend and it says COVID-19unemployment.com and you think, oh, I should click on this. I'm, you know, I'm newly unemployed and whatnot. But it's not a good idea. And that, that being said, Google is doing a lot to try to track and flag and blacklist these things. But again, malware is starting to creep in and, you know, Trojan horse attacks and things. So just be really, as Bill said, really, really mindful. And also be mindful of email scams, impersonating the WHO, or CDC and using all their logos and whatnot, to try to reach you with a really great deal. Because as you know right now, there is no really great deals to be had. It is not a buyer's market, as you would say in the sense that things are very volatile. Things are destined to change and we cannot predict anything with any amount of, of certainty. And so people should be really careful about their resources, where they place them. As well, be mindful of websites that you're entering your credentials into, especially banking information right now, because we do see, there are a lot of different websites that are trying to mimic or create an imposter site by spoofing domains. And so just make sure that you're on the site for your banking institution and that it looks the same, it feels the same. And if you have doubts and usually they'll have a warning on their website about you know, what they're doing, and in the moment in this moment to serve their customers. So if they do have a phone number or hotline you should call, those are things that are definitely worth doing and double checking if you are moving cash around. The other thing that you can do is make sure that when you're looking at your browser right up by the URL, the address bar, there's usually a little lock and that lock should be either green or gray, depending upon your browser, if that lock is ever red or looks like it's, you know, been opened or whatnot, do not put your credentials into that website. That little lock is actually a signature for, or a signal for you to look at, to say, I am a secure browser, I am in a secure browsing environment that is protected. And so definitely like be really careful, be really wary, there has definitely been an uptick in hacking attempts worldwide, and we don't want anybody to get caught up in this, especially because it's going to be even more difficult to remedy it while you know, people at banks are working remotely in some cases. And, you know, you don't want to have to try to track track people down at this stage.

Holly Fearing

(26:52): That's really helpful information and I can imagine that credit unions are trying to figure out their place in the sharing of information right now, and make sure that they're, you know, what the right balance is between adding to the noise of just all the abundance of information that's being shared, accurate or inaccurate out there. And balancing that with providing really useful solid information for their, for their members and their communities that look to them for that information. So I'm curious, just anyone do you have thoughts on, you know, should credit unions be sharing information about the virus right now? Should they just be resharing from solid resources, the WHO, the CDC, local federal state government resources? Should they be sharing that kind of information, or is that just adding to the deluge of, of content that's already out there?

Joan Donovan

(28:00): I'm going to jump in here just cause I do have some advice about this. Like you have to think about timely, relevant and local. And so for instance, in the town that I live in our city has developed a specific website you can go to that gives you the information about what the city's doing to track COVID-19, as well as where you can get tested for it based on a set of criteria. It is updated daily. So linking to a site like that, if your city has one, I think is crucial in the sense that we don't often think about going to our town government website in moments like this. We think about it when we want to know what the swim schedule is, or, you know if there are local parks in our neighborhood and when trash pickup is going to happen. But these local websites are doing a really good job in some instances of, of making sure that their citizens are informed. And I think that credit unions that, that emphasize, you know, the community aspects of their credit union would do well to share that local link, right? Not try to source that information themselves, make sure that link is available and has been distributed to members. The other thing I would like to say is that we have to be redundant. There, there can be no assumption that everybody has been reached by any single method. So in this moment, every piece of your information, communication system is actually critical. So not just the website, but if you have a Facebook page or a Twitter account or a newsletter, making sure that the same information is in multiple places can really go a long way in shoring up that other people are seeing what it is that you are, what it is that you think is important, timely, relevant, local information in your neighborhood.

Holly Fearing

(30:10): Yeah, that's great advice. Bill or Taylor, are you seeing credit unions doing that already?

Taylor C. Nelms

(30:16): Absolutely. There are many credit unions that are looking to their state governments in particular and in some cases, municipalities to provide much more detailed and locally relevant information around COVID-19 in particular. I would just simply echo Joan and say that more of that is necessary. I think that, especially in this situation where the, the circumstances vary widely by geography by community, sometimes even, you know, neighborhood to neighborhood, it's really important to have that local connection. And, you know, I would say that in many cases, it's the state and local governments that have been really taking the lead in being transparent about the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. The redundancy piece is absolutely critical. Credit unions are very familiar with that, but I would, I would just, again, echo, echo Joan there, right?

(31:17): Timely, relevant, local, and redundant information. That's a good formula for reaching your members. I'd ask, Joan, you know, when it comes to, to misinformation, broadly speaking, and we've seen a lot of this around COVID-19, when it comes to intentional or unintentional falsehoods, conspiracy theories, that kind of thing really circulating, especially on social media, you know, help us through a kind of situation, really pragmatically, you know, say a conspiracy theory or false hood shows up in a reply to a tweet by a credit union's, institutional account. What should the social media manager do? Is it better to ignore? Is it better to confront? Like what are their best practices in terms of stopping the spread of misinformation?

Joan Donovan

(32:03): Okay, so the adage of don't feed the trolls still hold pretty true. I would say, unless it is very harmful and you can't delete it, you do have to address it. So for instance, one of the things that's been really problematic over the last week and a half has been the assumption that chloroquine or hydroxy chloroquine is a preventative measure that can fight coronavirus. And this is, this was something that was circulating among Bitcoin investors before, Elon Musk had started tweeting about it, and then it made it all the way to Fox news and then was also talked about by the President. And Dr. Fauci, the Medical Advisor on the White House task force has suggested that there are many drugs actually, that could be beneficial, but this one in particular does need to be vetted.

(33:13): It's an anti-malaria drug and has been on the market a really long time. Some people already have prescriptions of it that they had planned on taking a vacation somewhere and got it. For the most part it's not completely dangerous for people to take, but it could be dangerous to take it in a situation where you do have some kind of compromised health issues and you have a bad medical reaction. And so we've actually seen cases where people have gotten sick taking it. There's also the popularity around it has caused a shortage and it's, it's becoming harder to get for certain patients that take it regularly for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. And so we have seen misinformation about and conspiracies about Coronavirus start to spread and start to take hold. And, and if you are managing different social media, you have to think about what am I trying to accomplish by responding?

(34:20): Is it that I want to engage this person because maybe they might be doing something harmful to themselves. So I want to report this using the flagging technologies on, you know, Facebook and Twitter especially have ways you can actually report misinformation. Is it the case that it has caused some harm and you can't get it down fast enough? So what you need to do is just delete your whole post so that all the comments disappear. There are different ways of handling it for different kinds of communication strains. The other thing I would suggest is also we see a lot of people posting screenshots where it's a rumor and the rumor it makes a claim that I heard from a Stanford doctor. You know, I heard from a friend that works in the military, and then they'll go on to say something really panic inducing that has not been confirmed.

(35:22): And in those rumors, we're seeing spread in text messages mainly, but they are showing up in social media as screenshots. So be careful not to share any information that is not coming from a verifiable source and posts that tend to lean on institutional affiliations or claims of being from a university or a hospital, if you want to share it, double-check that and try to confirm it in other places, because oftentimes that's the way that misinformation gets shared unintentionally is that people believe it's true. And they believe that because it's coming from what looks like an important source that, that they, they, they should share it. But this is why it's really important to check and recheck sources and, and try to verify any information before posting or responding.

Holly Fearing

(36:26): And I suspect that many business pages have rules of engagement in place that they've put when they started their social media accounts. And this is a great time for, for those social media managers that have established that already to lean into those rules that you've established for the type of discussion that will be tolerated or just accepted onto the page. And then, you know, if there, if there's a conversation that's completely off, off topic it's fair to delete it. And if people have take issue with that, you can refer back to, you know, these are the rules of engagement. We have this kind of conversation on this page. This is what purpose it serves. And that the, the manager of the page reserves the right to delete content that's not in line with that. And if it's preestablished then it's, it's an easier message to deliver to, to the audience there. So my next question is around just helping us all stay sane through all of this. Do you guys have any personal advice for how you all sort through this overwhelming amount of information every day and, and how you process it all?

Joan Donovan

(37:42): This is a good question for Bill cause I did hear you laughing earlier today and I don't know where that wellspring of joy comes from.

Bill Maurer

(37:53): Well, I mean, I will say first, just in terms of maintaining sanity, I have been trying to just personally maintain the same kind of schedule that I had before I was sheltering in place here in Long Beach, California. So I have taught our gym how to use zoom and our coaches are now giving our morning 6:45 AM workout classes via zoom to the same crowd who I used to work out with in person. And then I am, you know, eating and showering at the same time. I am putting on work shoes and a tie because most of my life is via video conference and I figured that I should look the way that I would look if I was at work, except I am wearing

Holly Fearing

(38:46): Just the, just the shoes and the tie Bill?

Joan Donovan

(38:50): Right? That was what I was thinking.

Bill Maurer

(38:51): I am wearing jeans, as I was explaining. I'm wearing jeans more than dress slacks, but I am wearing a nice shirt and a nice tie as well as business shoes. And then, you know, when it comes time for me to take over a childcare around 2 or 2:30, then I have my Mr. Rogers moment and I like change into the sweater and the sneakers. Right? And then I'm home. But, but in terms of sort of the information, you know, overload and the, the kind of infodemic thing, you know, I am limiting my news consumption, consumption to just a few trusted sources. I, it's interesting, I have been relying more on local sources than I did before. So, you know, before maybe I would read the New York Times before the LA times and never get to the LA Times. And now I'm reading the LA Times first and also checking in with our local Long Beach posts online just to see what's going on locally and what I need to know. In terms of, you know, things related to our conversation today, as I said, I mostly just kind of keeping an eye on the CFPB and SEC websites. And then I sign up for the Atlanta Feds weekly bulletin, and I, I'm probably reading more of, of their content than I was before this all began, particularly because there had been so many money and payment related things going on around the pandemic. And I just want to make sure that I know what those things are so that I can advise people in conversations like this, but also so that I can understand how people's practices around money and payment maybe changing as a result of our very unusual circumstances right now.

Holly Fearing

(40:37): How about you, Taylor?

Taylor C. Nelms

(40:41): I'm not staying sane, so I'm not a good person to ask.

Joan Donovan

(40:46): Well, you, that why you got one kid at home?

Taylor C. Nelms

(40:50): Yeah. The, the, the toddler remote work situation is that I think is a challenge for everybody, but in terms of information consumption. Yeah. I mean, I'm really trying to keep it tight and local. I have been, you know, when I want to understand the, the coronavirus situation here in Wisconsin, Holly and I are, are based here in Madison. The Wisconsin DHS is a great source of information and they've been really good about getting timely information released on a daily basis. So, so you know, that, that for me, you know, on a, you know, specific to COVID-19, that's where I've been going. But you know, more broadly, I've been, if I'm on media, I'm posting not reading. Which I think is a pretty good practice generally. And, and trying to keep my, keep my information consumption to just a few sources like Bill said.

Holly Fearing

(41:47): And Joan, I'm sure it must be hard for you because this is kind of your job. So how do you balance that?

Joan Donovan

(41:53): Yeah, but it's, yeah, I, you know, balance is one thing. I'm, I'm a always keep moving type of shark. And so it's been pretty much chaos and crisis since like 2011 in my world. And because I often am keeping up on multiple different issues that I find really important around internet access and advocacy, racial justice issues, and so I live in a world that always sort of feels like it's at a slow burn. What's been difficult I think about right now is how many people are feeling that same frayed attention span and are really looking for guidance and help in a moment when we're seeing that our technology isn't really equipped to handle all of this communication. We are stressed about our days and our jobs and taking care of one another. And so that stuff is, you know, an order of magnitude, more difficult for all of us. But through it all, you know, me and my spouse, we do spend our evenings together. We eat dinner together. We make sure to check in with each other. And then I just went out and bought a Nintendo switch so that I can stare at a different kind of screen.

Joan Donovan

(43:33): So, but I just realized, you know, I was like, I got to do things for myself. And I got to, I got to get off the, the internet talk box and try other things. And, you know, we've been busy in our time with taking a lot of, a lot of walks around the neighborhood and, and being mindful of, you know, the people and the support that other people need in our lives. So it's, you know, but from not much has changed in my world, except I really miss my team. I miss my coworkers. I miss being at work. Because I don't like working from home. I don't usually work from home. I usually work in the office and I've been having, you know, it was just kind of reminiscing earlier today with some, some of the folks on my team about how we, you know, once we get back to work, you know, we can, we can really get at some of these problems more in depth. And so, but for the time being, you know, I'm just making do, and, you know, we'll see if I become a world-class gamer, it's this misinformation research doesn't work out. Like maybe I could be the next PewDiePie.

Taylor C. Nelms

(44:50): Wouldn't recommend that, Joan.

Joan Donovan

(44:53): Why not? I mean, I see he makes millions. Right? Like if all I had to do was put out a 10-minute YouTube video everyday, where I am like look at this shiny thing, You know? Who knows, maybe it's charisma he has.

Taylor C. Nelms

(45:07): It's always good to have a backup plan.

Holly Fearing

(45:09): We will all have new careers coming out of this. We will all be medical doctors and it's just going to be so great.

Joan Donovan

(45:17): Yeah. Amateur epidemiology seems to be a really hot field right now.

Taylor C. Nelms

(45:24): That's, that's actually good advice for all of our listeners is be aware the amateur epidemiologists.

Joan Donovan

(45:31): It's bad out there. I mean, you know, I have a background in medical sociology, which is pretty much a degree in amateur epidemiology. And even I'm like, "whoa, this is trouble." This is trouble.

Taylor C. Nelms

(45:45): I think I'm going to start a daycare after this. Like I might as well just go all in. I'm spending all my time doing it anyway. If you didn't recognize it before, and we all should have, it's very clear how critical folks like teachers and healthcare workers and retail workers and all of the various care workers that are out there in the world making things happen and stitching things together and keeping our social relationships alive, how important they are and the degree to which we can recognize that in our own organizations, whether it's that social media manager or moderator, the person who is able to put together the zoom happy hour every week. Those are people who are really important, especially as we physical distance and try to maintain the social relationships that we have with one another.

Holly Fearing

(46:32): Do you guys have any final thoughts for credit unions advice for credit unions? Just as, as filters of information or as pillars in their communities that are existing to really look out for the well-being of their communities, any advice for them that we didn't cover yet?

Bill Maurer

(46:58): You know, I'll jump in with something. I think one of the most important things for a trusted institution, like a credit union during a time, like this is simply to be there, right. Simply to show that they're there and that they know that their members are struggling. They know that their communities are facing some real challenges, but they're there, right? It's this sort of, the sort of thing that you do, you know, in grief counseling or when you were with a terminally ill person or, you know, comforting someone after a tragedy. You know, often you don't really have to say anything at all. You just need to be there. And I think to the extent that credit unions can remind folks that they're here with them, that, that that's an incredible service in and of itself.

Holly Fearing

(47:49): I love that. Thank you, Taylor, any final thoughts?

Taylor C. Nelms

(47:55): Uh, just to add to what Bill has already said. I mean, I think that what credit unions can offer in that moment of showing that they are showing their presence, their care. You know, is really different from the thousands of other emails that we're getting in our inbox from like our tanning salon and like the various websites that we didn't realize had our, you know, contact information, who are all emailing us to say that that they, they are monitoring the situation and that they care about us. You know, credit unions are different in the sense that they have products and services that can actually help people in this moment. Right? They have bridge loans, they have zero interest, you know, cash grants, they have, you know, payment, deferral options, you know, digital and mobile services. There's a whole range of things that credit unions can do for their members and are doing for their members that go beyond the simple touch base, as important as that is. So I would just emphasize both of those things.

Holly Fearing

(49:01): Awesome. Thank you. Joan, any final thoughts?

Joan Donovan

(49:05): And me money? Well, that's what the scammers would say right. Just follow. No, it's just been a pleasure to talk to everybody and I really appreciate everything everybody's doing to hold it together in this time. And the minute I can get back to California, I am on a plane. So make up the guest room for me, Bill. Joan's going to the beach. Okay.

Bill Maurer

(49:35): You can't go to the beach right now I'm afraid. But I will break out the sheet plastic so that we can keep you in quarantine and the guestroom for 14 days.

Joan Donovan

(49:44): I take it, you know, to get quarantine at your house sounds nice. So don't, don't make it too comfortable.

Bill Maurer

(49:51): We are making quarantinis, you know. We are.

Joan Donovan

(49:57): I knew you would be.

Bill Maurer

(49:57): Of course we are.

Holly Fearing

(50:00): Well, this is the first episode of the Filene podcast that was conducted from my closet at home. So it is a world premier first of the Filene podcast, not in our studio. Thank you again for your time today and all of the expertise that you've shared. This was great.

Joan Donovan

(50:22): Thank you so much.

Holly Fearing

(50:23): All right, bye.

Joan Donovan

(50:24): Have a good one. Bye bye.

Bill Maurer

(50:26): Bye bye.

Holly Fearing

(50:27): All right. That's it for the Fill-in folks. Thank you for listening. Thank you to Bill and Joan and Taylor for the excellent information and conversation. And thank you, credit unions. We know your work right now is not easy, but it is important. We know that your credit union is adapting quickly to new information every week. And Filene is here to help with that. Each week we're building and sharing new, helpful resources for your credit union and putting them on our resource hub so you can quickly find what you need and get back to the important work of serving your members. Check out filene.org/resourcehub, to see what we have for you there. If you liked this episode, please do rate us on Apple podcasts so more people can find us and make sure you're subscribed to the Filene Fill in podcast so you can keep up with what's going on at Filene. You'll find us on Apple podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you want to get in touch about today's show, email me at [email protected], or find us on Twitter at @fileneresearch. Until next time. Thanks everyone.

Bill Maurer

(51:45): Totally. Yes. Everything is canceled. Everything is canceled because of COVID-19. Everything is canceled and we're in quarantine.

Holly Fearing

(52:01): Perfect.

Bill Maurer

(52:02): And you're welcome. I hope that that's not going to like get you a cease and desist from anybody.