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Derry library program seeks to fight fake news

By ETHAN HOGAN
Union Leader correspondent

February 05. 2017 9:39PM




The spread of misinformation online and through social media became a topic of concern across the nation in 2016, according to Liz Ryan of the Derry Public Library.

The library held an event last Wednesday to train attendees to understand and identify fake news.

“There is a lot of news out there that caters to any kind of view a person wants,” said Ryan.

She said the internet allows people to “cherry-pick their own facts.”

Readers can end up subscribing to news outlets, both legitimate and illegitimate, that report news with severe bias, she said.

Sites such as ABC.com.co, posing as the actual ABC.com, can be hard to differentiate, Ryan said.

Erin Robinson of the Derry Public Library, said there is so much information on social media feeds that it can be difficult to fact-check every headline or article.

Robinson suggests using sites like Politifact.com and Snopes.com, which fact-check popular headlines and stories.

Derry Public Library and libraries nationwide are also a trusted sources for researching and fact-checking important stories, according to Robinson.

Attendees were shown examples of news headlines and photographs and asked to identify whether the news was real.

Fake quotes and edited images were able to stump most of the attendees.

Linda Samson, a pharmacist and Derry resident of three years, said she has been disturbed by the amount of false medical information online.

She also expressed her concerns about younger people using the internet.

“Their classes are all online now and they do not have text books. So the kids are just not looking at anything that has factual sources,” said Samson.

Tom Haines, who teaches in the journalism program at the University of New Hampshire, said that the rise of fake news gives people an opportunity to think critically about the news they are reading.

“Slow down. Ask questions. Think critically. Look for evidence, not assertions, “ said Haines.

Haines also stressed the importance of checking the sources that are cited and researching the evidence being presented.


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