Have you ever seen a news story or viral meme on social media that turned out to be false? We all have, right? Here’s a more uncomfortable question: have you ever shared stories online, only to discover later that they weren’t true? Unfortunately, most of us have done that too. That’s why DPL Reference Services has put together a class called How to Spot Fake News, to give our customers tricks and tools for looking at websites, news articles, and their crazy uncle’s emails with a more critical eye. We had our first class on August 1st, and we hope to offer more in the future.
We decided to offer this class because fake news has become a big problem. It’s getting harder to tell what news sources can be trusted, and even the term “fake news” has been weaponized, with politicians and pundits using it to describe real news stories they simply don’t like. So, how do we decide what’s real and what isn’t? And just how do we define “fake news” in a way that the term doesn’t lose all meaning?
That’s something librarians have been talking about a lot lately, because part of our job is to evaluate information sources to determine how reliable they are--and to help our customers do the same. Recently IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations, put together a great infographic with tips for spotting fake and misleading news. It’s based on an article by FactCheck.org, one of the most respected fact-checking websites. Here at DPL, we’ve used these and many other sources to design our class.
Fake news and other misinformation spreads because people share it without realizing what it is. That means the only way to stop it is to learn to spot it, so we can stop it in its tracks instead of helping it spread. It’s up to all of us! Watch the Research News blog for future posts about fighting the fake news epidemic.
Got questions? Ask Us or call Reference at 720.865.1363.