“I Made My Shed The Top Rated Restaurant on TripAdvisor” (And Some Quick Thoughts on Fake News)

At RPL’s recent Staff Development Day, I was asked to moderate a panel discussion on fake news.  The panelists included a local education prof who specializes in social media and digital technology, a journalism prof who specializes in mass and alternative media and a journalist who is the assignment producer as well as having responsibility for various aspects of her organization’s social media content and long-term strategy.

We covered as much as we could in an hour using three focus areas as jumping off points – the history of fake news, the impact of social media, and finishing up with some ideas on how to spot fake news – but the reality is that we could’ve easily spent a day looking at all the different aspects of the topic.

We touched on most of these in passing but it would’ve been useful to get into greater detail about the political impact of fake news, the role of fake accounts and bots, the psychology of why people are susceptible to fake news (and which people are most susceptible), the role and limits of skepticism, the possibility that the library, in its goal to not make judgements about people’s information needs might be complicit in spreading fake news.

Even something as basic as how a trusted review site (that I’ve promoted often myself but also had my misgivings about) might not be as reliable as you’d expect makes for fascinating reading.

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