Posts Tagged ‘internet’
“If you have a society where people can’t agree on basic facts,
how do you have a functioning democracy?”
—Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron
ProQuest recently surveyed 217 librarians from university, community college, high school and public libraries in North America for their views and insights on information literacy. While 83% of librarians surveyed agree that information literacy affects college graduation rates and 97% believe that it contributes to success in the workforce, only 21% think that their users recognize information literacy’s effect on lifelong success, and 44% believe that their library does not support information literacy instruction as much as it should. Read a report on the full results of ProQuest’s 2016 Information Literacy Survey.
What Is Fake News?
Although there are many definitions of fake news, the main characteristic is that it is created with an intent to deceive or mislead. Many fake news items are either largely or completely fictitious, and deliberately so. These stories imitate the look and style of real news articles, and they are published on sites designed to imitate established newspaper websites or political blogs, often with closely-related, similar or slightly misspelled domain names.
Melissa Zimdars, an associate professor of communication and media at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, compiled a list of websites that either purposely publish false information or are otherwise entirely unreliable. She tags the sites by category–false, misleading, unreliable, clickbait, satire, bias, hate, conspiracy theories, junk science, or sometimes a combination of several categories.
How Does Fake News Spread?
Most web publishers define their success by the amount of traffic their sites receive. They use this information to attract and bill advertisers based on the numbers of “clicks” or “hits” their site generates. Sometimes, the factual information or foundation of the article is not as important as the number of page views, because these can be used to generate more revenue from potential advertisers.
News sharing has become popular because people affirm their identities and affiliations by posting links to articles that reflect and support their own existing opinions and beliefs, and fake news stories are often strongly biased. Sometimes a story that was intended as satire circulates as factual information, or false information can originate when regular people who are misinformed post on social media sites. Web site owners can also pay a fee to have their site’s search results shown in top placement on the results page of different search engines.
Sharing fake news articles pushes them higher up in search result pages, causing others to come across them quickly and trust the content. This is supported by a study conducted at Northwestern University, where 102 college students went online to answer questions about topics relevant to them. How did the students assess the credibility of online content? When using a search engine, many students clicked on the first search result. They ignored the sponsoring organization and the article’s author, blindly trusting the search engine to put the most reliable results first.
Why Is Fake News Harmful?
Prior to the internet age, people relied on information in printed form–newspapers, magazines, journals, books, encyclopedias–or they watched the nightly television news. Doing any type of extensive research usually required a trip to the library to find the resources needed. The internet and social media have made it far easier for powerful entities to directly and quickly spread false or misleading information far and wide. One of the most troubling and dangerous aspects of fake news is the prevalence of private groups pushing their own agendas under the appearance of seemingly unbiased news.
An analysis by the digital media powerhouse BuzzFeed News found that top fake election news stories generated more total engagement on Facebook during the final three months of the 2016 presidential election campaign than reports from 19 major news outlets (including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC News) combined.
The recent rise in fake news sites underscores the importance of teaching students independent research and critical thinking skills. It’s not enough to tell them to only use the school’s databases–they must learn how to evaluate the sources they find in the collective media sphere, including both print and digital sources. In its position statement on media literacy, the National Council for the Social Studies, an organization that supports social studies education in U.S. K-12 and higher education, argues that it’s important that students be able to “ask key questions, compare competing claims, assess credibility, and reflect on one’s own process of reasoning,” whether they are reading a printed book, a newspaper article or a Facebook post.
Are your students equipped with the information literacy skills to identify fake news? ProQuest Guided Research products equip students to learn information literacy skills. Free trials are available.
In an era where students search for information online via search engines and social media, they need the ability to identify and distinguish reputable sources from deceptive sources. In other words, they need to be able to tell the difference between real and fake news. A November 2016 study from Stanford researchers has concluded that students are not prepared.
Our “digital natives” may be able to flit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels, they are easily duped.--“Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning,” Stanford History Education Group
ProQuest Research Companion is here to help. Equip students with information literacy skills through self-paced learning modules, assessments, and tools such as the Source Evaluation Aid. The embedded video above is an example of the material available in the evaluating sources learning module.
ProQuest’s Guided Research products such as CultureGrams, eLibrary, and SIRS Issues Researcher offer authoritative content that is vetted and packaged for middle and high school students. Besides reliable information and tools, you can also find supplementary handouts to guide students step by step such as the SIRS Issues Researcher: Research Guide for the Critical Thinker.
Don’t have ProQuest Research Companion or other Guided Research products? Request a Free Trial!
Choose Privacy Week, May 1-7, is an American Library Association (ALA) initiative to teach librarians and library users about privacy rights in a digital age. And, this year’s featured event is a Webinar called Defense Against the Digital Dark Arts, which will offer advice on how to protect one’s privacy and personal data online.
Inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has criticized the surveillance of citizens by governments and advocated an online Magna Carta to protect the rights of users. In addition, recent polls, including ones conducted by USA Today/Pew Research Center and AP-GfK, show that Americans are increasingly placing more value on privacy over protection from terrorism. Yet, national security and law enforcement agencies argue that enhanced national security is needed to prevent terrorist strikes.
Choose SIRS Issues Researcher to help your students answer the following question:
Should governments engage in surveillance of their citizens in the interests of national security?
When you direct your students to our National Security and Privacy Leading Issue in SIRS, they will find the tools and information they need to answer this essential question. There, they can read an overview, gather statistics, and retrieve editorially-selected articles and images and formulate an opinion on this issue.
Is your school or library celebrating Choose Privacy Week? If so, let us know what you’re doing in the comments section below.
Technology enhances library engagement according to the Pew Research Center’s latest typology on Americans’ public library usage. Technologically-savvy Americans, even with a world of information at their fingertips, still use library services. This suggests that technology is not replacing the need for school and public libraries. But I propose taking this finding one step further: technology has the potential to increase engagement with libraries.
Consider this case: A man becomes disengaged with libraries after he graduates from college. Years later he discovers that his local library offers online services. The hassle of physically going to the library is no longer an issue or an excuse. He taps into his library’s resources with a few simple clicks. Suddenly he has access to a plethora of free content. Plus, the library’s Web site informs him of the latest library news, events, and offerings.
This man is me.
Having access to a slew of magazines and journals has had a huge impact on my life. Content on the Internet is becoming increasingly restricted to subscribers only, and I cannot afford to pay for every publication that interests me. That is no longer a worry or a source of frustration thanks to my library card. I now have access to more writer magazines and poetry journals than I have time to read. My library’s Web site has not only saved me time and money; it has also furthered my education and expanded my access to the world.
I understand that one story is merely anecdotal. I do not represent library users everywhere. But I share my story to suggest that technology is not a death sentence for libraries as is often claimed. To the contrary, the Internet is a powerful tool that libraries are using to connect with students and the public. The face of our school and public libraries may be changing, but their online services are keeping them as relevant as ever. I am proof that the Internet can increase library engagement.
With the 2014 National Library Week upon us, let’s honor the impact of libraries past, present, and future.
Tell us below how your library is harnessing the power of the Internet to increase engagement.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Use this month as an opportunity to inform yourself on the Leading Issues surrounding your personal information on the Internet. Unlock the Identity Theft Leading Issue to understand how someone becomes a victim and ponder viewpoints and perspectives on how companies can protect consumer information. Prevent being a target by becoming informed with our overviews and selected quotes that provide different perspectives on the issue. Go deeper with our editorially-selected articles, primary source documents, websites, and multimedia. Critical Thinking and Analysis questions provide an additional avenue for exploration.
Wondering what can be done to protect you as a consumer? Some say the federal government should enact tougher regulations while others advocate self-regulation by industry to ensure that consumers are protected from identity theft and other abuses. You decide after examining our Consumer Privacy Leading Issue.
Cyber security and privacy is not just a personal issue but a national issue. Visit the National Security Leading Issue to examine the pros and cons of government’s surveillance of citizens’ personal information in the interests of national security.