ASIST 2017: Digital Literacy in the Era of Fake News: Key Roles for Information Professionals

Oct 30 2017 Published by under Conferences, Information Science

They were having problems with the projector so started with Connaway going through studies they've done related to information literacy. Important to provost and universities - learning doesn't stop when students graduate. How do we get students to use public libraries and use information in every day life decisionmaking.

  • How do people who work with the public in libraries get updated on information literacy
  • What do students know about how search engines work
  • How do people assess information on the web and in social media

Heidi Julien - engage in issues and model approaches

  • social media campaign about facts
  • express views publicly and stand up to confront misinformation
  • educate representatives at all levels of government - these issues are important and institutions like library need to be supported
  • advocate for importance of digital literacy.
  • Aldous Huxley "facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored"
  • (other international infographics and things to share)

Seadle - information professionals provide context and nuanced view.


Alex Kasprak - Science Writer at

Some things they're seeing are more like overblown - Yellowstone volcano may erupt sooner... > we're all gonna die!

More things like autism/vaccination.

Deeper expose on retired scientist who is peddling snake oil cure for cancer.

"50 studies say... " - he's never found one of these in which the studies do support the claim

Recent from B saying 400 articles saying climate change a hoax. Kasprak asked author "how long did it take to prepare" and Delingpole said "as little time as possible" (can share this because Delingpole posted that an "impertinent pup" from Snopes was fact-checking him with this comment).

questions: debunking - is it really useful or is it just giving more attention? Snopes won't necessary solve the problem but serve as a reference and affect the financial viability of these sites. Real world implications when Snopes debunks.

is it really about believing things that are untrue or is it more taking away debate - yes

is the term "fake news" too charged now to use. yes - probably not a useful term

other terms: lazy journalism, hucksterism, pseudoscience, etc. use more precise term

more blame on producers - but can we increase the cost of being wrong (reposting these stories)

Habermas-ian - public sphere as a place for exchange of rational ideas - but with Foucalt hat on if our problem is trying to maintain this notion of civil society in the face of people who are no longer interested in the ideal. The rational argument against an emotional or financial gain... beat our head against the wall.

Seadle response - like both schools of thought. but people aren't rational. behavioral economics. pure number of hits on a website gets you more money. Incentive structures to bring people back to

Julien - we are beating our heads against the wall, multiple cognitive biases, all operating in our own echo chambers - ideal

My q: influence operations by state actors vs. this

Kasprak - the state actors were taking messages already existing or making new messages modeled on existing, and then amplifying, paying to target these. So combating is actually similar, but we're not winning, and there are higher numbers.



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