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.