What is fake news?

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, The issue of “fake news” has been, well, in the news a lot lately. To kick off 2017, one of our January displays at the library is about how to tell real from fake – a skill called information literacy or media literacy. Basically, how to assess the quality of information you encounter and be a savvy consumer of information.

What is fake news?

  • Fake news is misinformation, either intentionally or through lack of high quality, rigorous research and reporting.
  • Fake news may not be 100% fake; it may be a mixture of real and fake, or it may be heavily biased, giving an unbalanced view of an issue or topic.

How does it spread?

  • People click on it and share it on social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Reddit – often without even reading the whole article, just the headline. Headlines are often intentionally wild and unbelievable (a.k.a. “clickbait”).

How can you tell what is true?

  • Triangulate: Check multiple sources. Does this information appear in one place, or many places?
  • Investigate the source: Who is publishing the information? Is it an individual (e.g. someone’s blog) or an organization? If it’s an organization, what’s their mission statement? This will give you a clue about possible bias.
  • When was it written? Is it recent, or is it “recycled” from months or years ago?
  • Is it an ad or “sponsored content”?

Are you a critical reader who can tell real news from fake? Visit our display to learn more, and pick up a helpful handout. Stay tuned for another blog post soon featuring links to stories about the problem of fake news.

This entry was posted in Databases and Research, Technology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What is fake news?

  1. Cris Martin says:

    Love that you’re talking about this!

  2. Pingback: Libraries in a Post-Truth World: The Conversation Continues – Jenny Arch

  3. Pingback: What can you do about fake news? Think before you share | Robbins Library Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s