Reading Social Media: Fake News

Jun. 15, 2017
More people than ever are getting their news online. But how do you spot a fake story? Orland Park Public Library is hosting a special panel on Monday, July 31 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss how people can be more responsible news consumers and recognize whether a link leads to a credible news story or just click-bate.
Most people have seen a blatantly incorrect news story advertising a celebrity death that has not occurred, a scandal that does not exist, or a new cure to a disease that has not been scientifically proven. Consuming and sharing unreliable news can be dangerous when it is widely shared and acted upon, but libraries are here to help sort the facts from the fiction.
“Librarians, educators and newspapers are positioned to respond to this growing trend through unbiased collections, actual statistics, and fact checking,” said Diane Srebro, Assistant Head of Adult Services at Orland Park Public Library. “Experts will share practical tactics to instruct students of all ages in sorting through an overload of information.”
Panelists will be encouraging those attending the event to consider the source of their information, to read beyond the headlines, to check the author of the material they are reading, and to find supporting sources for information. Some fact checking websites that will be mentioned during the panel discussion include Politifact.com, Factcheck.org, and Snopes.com. Additionally, panelists will be encouraging those attending to always ask an expert when they are in doubt about a story’s authenticity.
Panelists include Editor Joe Biesk, of the Daily Southtown; School Media Librarian Amy Hamernick, of Orland Park District 135; Librarian Deirdre Rawls, of Robert Morris University - OP; and Laura Lauzen-Collins PhD, of the psychology faculty at Moraine Valley Community College.
An interesting scientific study that complements this event is a Stanford University study released in November 2016 that discussed students’ inability to recognize inaccurate information sources. An executive summary of this study can be found here: https://sheg.stanford.edu/upload/V3LessonPlans/Executive%20Summary%2011.21.16.pdf
This study analyzed 7,804 student responses across 12 states and found that middle school students, high school students, and college students are unable to differentiate between opinion articles and credible news. Additionally, they have trouble recognizing that a source may be biased. Students even saw ads for articles as credible news when the words “Sponsored Content” were added to the ad.
For more information about the library, visit www.orlandparklibrary.org or call 708-428-5100. The Orland Park Public Library is located at 14921 Ravinia Avenue in Orland Park, Illinois. Hours are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.