Fake news is a big issue. It can have an enormous effect on public opinion and, in some cases, affect the outcome of democratic elections. Preventing fake news from damaging our civilization is a top priority for anybody who cares about the world around them.
Stopping fake news, however, is easier said than done. We live in a world where anybody can set up a website, blog, or social media channel and start spreading fake news. What’s more, a story can hop from one user to another costlessly, spreading to millions of people in a matter of hours. Never before in human history has the power of false information been so wide-reaching.
The solution isn’t top-down. There’s no way of shutting down fake news without severely impacting personal liberty or putting constraints on media reporting. There’s no reason to believe that the government will put out reports that are any more truthful than that of the average fake news blogger. Governments have always tried to manipulate the flow of information in their favor.
Many thinkers believe that we need a bottom-up approach to solving the problem, educating people about how to recognize fake news and filter out information that isn’t true. And here’s where librarians come in. Librarians deal in information and can help people find reliable sources in a way that few other people in our society are trained to do. The following infographic talks about the problem of fake news and how librarians are on the cutting edge of building media literacy.
Infographic by University of Southern California