Fake news presentation addresses real concerns

  • Staff members at the Arlington Heights Public Library on Tuesday night provided tools to help people evaluate the news they consume.

      Staff members at the Arlington Heights Public Library on Tuesday night provided tools to help people evaluate the news they consume. Jamie Sotonoff | Staff Photographer

  • The Arlington Heights Public Library hosted a program titled "How to Spot Fake News" on Tuesday night.

      The Arlington Heights Public Library hosted a program titled "How to Spot Fake News" on Tuesday night. Jamie Sotonoff | Staff Photographer

 
 

The crowd at the "How to Spot Fake News" program at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library Tuesday night was a little angry about the current situation but also interested in learning how to find credible news amid the proliferation of fake news.

Four library staff members, along with a security guard standing in the back of the room, gave a presentation to roughly 50 people that did not list trustworthy media. Instead, they provided tools to help people evaluate the news they consume, and then decide on their own what's credible.

"We're asking you to put on your Sherlock Holmes hats and investigate," said presenter and Teen Librarian Alice Son.

"Constantly play the devil's advocate."

One evaluation method -- which had an acronym that amused the crowd -- was the CRAAP Test. It stands for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose -- things a reader should consider.

"There is a bias for certain sources, so consider both sides," Son said.

The presentation included discussions on reading news on social media and asking people to place different media outlets on a "political bias spectrum."

They encouraged people to read and evaluate articles before instantly sharing them online; to read stories on both side of the spectrum or something that challenges their opinions; to regularly clear the cookies from their internet browsers to prevent the same types of stories from showing up; and to fact-check information at credible websites like Snopes.com, Politifact.com and FactCheck.org.

"It's sad that libraries, and various other institutions, have to teach people how to protect themselves," said attendee Ralph Blasko of Arlington Heights. "We are all being manipulated every day ... we have to be wary of everything."

The library will host another presentation on the topic March 23, and similar events are being planned at other libraries around the suburbs.

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