Presentation Title

Fake News is Not the Problem: Addressing Issues with Information Consumption in a Digital Environment

Location

Room 1220 A/B

Type of Presentation

Individual paper/presentation (20 minute presentation)

Target Audience

Other

Both K-12 and Higher Ed

Abstract

Since the last presidential election, fake news has become a topic of much discussion, and Librarians, seeing an opportunity to share their information literacy expertise, have been eagerly creating and sharing articles about and guides for spotting fake news. So many have been created that lists of these resources are now beginning to circulate, such as this one from the ALA Public Programs Office: http://www.programminglibrarian.org/articles/fake-news-library-round

While these are all good resources with good information, they are being deployed as a solution to fake news, but fake news is not the real problem. It is often said that the best thing about the Internet is that it gives everyone a voice, and the worst part about the Internet is that it gives everyone a voice. It gives rise to communities, but also to factions. The current social and political landscape is one of tremendous polarization, and while the Internet has played a significant role in that polarization, it is not entirely to blame. Studies have shown that many people are not necessarily interested in factual information. Instead, they search for information that confirms their feelings and beliefs. No amount of instruction in how to spot fake news will change the motivations behind their information consumption. Instead, good information-seeking behavior needs to be taught early, in K-12. Librarians must to not just focus on what constitutes good information vs. bad. They must also address why people search for information and why and how they decide what to consume.

Finally, the term fake news is problematic partly because it’s now being used to refer to anything a person or entity finds objectionable, and it has generally been applied so broadly that it is now essentially meaningless. Satire sites such as The Onion and Borowitz Report are technically fake news, but unlike intentional disinformation and propaganda, they do not seek to mislead people. It is important for librarians to identify specific areas that are problematic and label them accordingly.

Presentation Description

Since the last presidential election, fake news has become a topic of much discussion, and Librarians have been eager to share their information literacy expertise, creating and circulating articles about and guides for spotting fake news. But fake news isn’t the problem. In this session, we’ll look at the various factors that contribute to the spread of disinformation online and what librarians can do to address them. We’ll also discuss the problematic nature of the “fake news” frame and how it distorts the issue and efforts to address it.

Keywords

Information Seeking Behavior, Information Consumption, Information Literacy, Confirmation Bias

Publication Type and Release Option

Event

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Sep 16th, 10:45 AM Sep 16th, 12:00 PM

Fake News is Not the Problem: Addressing Issues with Information Consumption in a Digital Environment

Room 1220 A/B

Since the last presidential election, fake news has become a topic of much discussion, and Librarians, seeing an opportunity to share their information literacy expertise, have been eagerly creating and sharing articles about and guides for spotting fake news. So many have been created that lists of these resources are now beginning to circulate, such as this one from the ALA Public Programs Office: http://www.programminglibrarian.org/articles/fake-news-library-round

While these are all good resources with good information, they are being deployed as a solution to fake news, but fake news is not the real problem. It is often said that the best thing about the Internet is that it gives everyone a voice, and the worst part about the Internet is that it gives everyone a voice. It gives rise to communities, but also to factions. The current social and political landscape is one of tremendous polarization, and while the Internet has played a significant role in that polarization, it is not entirely to blame. Studies have shown that many people are not necessarily interested in factual information. Instead, they search for information that confirms their feelings and beliefs. No amount of instruction in how to spot fake news will change the motivations behind their information consumption. Instead, good information-seeking behavior needs to be taught early, in K-12. Librarians must to not just focus on what constitutes good information vs. bad. They must also address why people search for information and why and how they decide what to consume.

Finally, the term fake news is problematic partly because it’s now being used to refer to anything a person or entity finds objectionable, and it has generally been applied so broadly that it is now essentially meaningless. Satire sites such as The Onion and Borowitz Report are technically fake news, but unlike intentional disinformation and propaganda, they do not seek to mislead people. It is important for librarians to identify specific areas that are problematic and label them accordingly.