Become a “Fake News” Detective – how to verify what you see online before you share it

In 2019, Pew Research found that 55% of American adults said they get their news from social media either “often” or “sometimes” .  And while some news on social media may come from reliable sources, plenty more “news” may be from articles reposted or retweeted by friends.  So, as you’re scrolling through your newsfeed and seeing articles (or comments on articles) that provoke a reaction in you, how do you know what you’re seeing is legitimate?

We are living in an age of misinformation – just about anyone can become a “publisher” these days with little to no oversight or verification. And many of these publishers aren’t even people! Recently,  researchers at Carnegie Melon University studied more than 200 million tweets about the novel coronavirus. Of the top 50 most influential retweeters, 82% of them were bots! What were they retweeting? Dozens of inaccurate stories about things like bogus conspiracy theories and phony cures.

How do we know what’s real and what isn’t nowadays? It takes some digging. And it’s worth doing a little fact-checking of your own before hitting the “share” button. We should also understand that there are different types of unreliable information out there. For instance there’s a difference between deliberately misleading information (propaganda and libel) and unintentional misinformation (mistakes). But we don’t want to spread either kind, so let’s look at how to separate the fact from fiction.

The C.R.A.P. Test, developed by Dominican University Librarian Molly Beestrum, is a helpful tool to use when trying to decide if something is a credible, valid source. When you come across questionable information, run it through these four categories:

Current

  • How current is the information?
  • How recently was it was posted? Has it been updated?

Reliable

  • How reliable is the information?
  • Does the author provide references or sources?
  • What proof do you have that the information is reliable?

Authority

  • Who is the creator or author of the information? What are his or her credentials?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor of the information? Is this a reputable information source?

Purpose/Point ofView

  • What is the purpose of this information? Is it intended to inform, entertain, or persuade?
  • Does the information sound like fact or opinion? Is it biased?
  • Is the creator or author trying to sell you something?

Something else to think about is the emotional response an article or post evokes in you. Content creators are all about the emotional response, and “fake news” stories often use emotionally driven content to push their agenda and compel people to share it. The next time you are outraged or amazed by a story, look a little deeper. Fact checking sites like Snopes.com and  FactCheck.org, can help you determine if what you’ve seen is legitimate or not.

Here’s a helpful checklist by ProQuest (a global information-content and technology company that provides applications and products for libraries),  which contains a lot of useful tips for vetting online content:

Want to go deeper into the subject of information literacy and “fake news”? Here are a few books to get you started:

Fake news, Propaganda, and Plain Old Lies : how to find trustworthy information in the digital age by Donald A. Barclay

Merchants of Truth : the business of news and the fight for facts by Jill Abramson

The Smear : how shady political operatives and fake news control what you see, what you think, and how you vote by Sharyl Attkisson

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

What’s Fake News?  by Joyce Jeffries

 

 

 

Additional sources::

Romance Authors and Social Media

socialAfter finishing a good book, do you find yourself wanting to learn a little bit about the author?  Do you want to know what other books the author has written?  Are you reading a series and want to know the titles in sequence?  Well, most authors are really into social media and have their own blogs, facebook accounts, and twitter accounts.  Some of the author’s blogs are wonderfully entertaining, funny, and loaded with personal information.  Some authors even have give-aways, usually books, or bags – even heartdinner with the author.  They also list where they will be personally appearing.  They let you into their personal lives, even sharing pictures of their families or vacations they have taken.   Do you wonder what authors are reading?  They’ll tell you – even promoting and recommending other authors’ books.  Romance authors really enjoy their readers and are willing to share just about anything with them.  Romance authors are also a very tight knit group.  Even though they live all over the country, they form very close friendships among themselves.  For example, author Kristan Higgins’ husband traveled out West to attend a ceremony for fallen firefighters (he is a firefighter here in Connecticut) and he actually stayed with author Robyn Carr’s family.

followRomance authors give us insight to how they came about writing their novels.  Sometimes, they put a call out for readers to suggest names for upcoming characters.  Authors read every comment a reader makes and sometimes write novels based on what their readers are looking for.   If you have a favorite author, it’s easy to just google their name and see what their website has to offer.  Below are two of my favorite Romance authors websites.  I try to read them once a week because they almost always give me a good laugh.jill 2

Jill Shalvis – Her site is very informative and her blog and facebook page are hysterical!  She shares a lot about her daily life and she posts lots of pictures, including what some of the heroes of her books might look like.  She has been reprimanded a few times by facebook for posting ‘too hot to handle’ photos!  The library has a great assortment of her books here.

kristanKristan Higgins – Her site is also very informative.  She and Jill Shalvis have similar writing styles in books and their blogs/facebook are quite similar.  They are also very good friends even though Kristan lives here in Connecticut and Jill on the West Coast in a small town in the Sierra Mountains.  The library also has a great assortment of her books here.

Some other interesting Romance authors websites are:

Robyn Carr – website          library catalog

Suzanne Brockmann – website      library catalog

Susan Elizabeth Phillips – website    library catalog

Julie Ann Walker – website     library catalog

Elle Kennedy – website      library catalog