Darien librarians offer tips on fighting the spread of misinformation

The Darien Library

The Darien Library

The Darien Library / Contributed photo

DARIEN — With the rise of social media and access to simple digital tools, it is easy for anyone to create, manipulate, and share information online. All one has to do is click a button to share an article, picture, or video. If the content resonates with people, they can re-share it and potentially millions of people will see the item. We call this process going viral. Since we spend so much of our lives online and sharing items with our followers in turn, it is essential to be able to identify misinformation from truth. Darien Library’s librarians offer the following guide on how to spot misinformation.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, misinformation is defined as “incorrect or misleading information.” Disinformation is defined as “false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth.”

When you come across content that seems unbelievable, be skeptical and do some checks to verify if the article or information is credible:

· Check the source of the article—who is the author, and how credible are they? Do they write for a credible organization?

· Click on links within the article to see if they support the story and are from recognized sources.

· Check the date of the article—is it an old story misrepresenting current events?

· Is it a joke? The article or image could be satire or parody meant to entertain.

· Check for any biases. These are not misinformation, but our biases are strengthened in support of what we believe. Keep an open mind in order to discern fact from opinion.

· Check Google and do some lateral reading. See if the same article is reported more than once.

Most importantly, before sharing an article or social media post, do something radical:

Make sure you actually read it! Make sure the article matches the heading. Sharing fake news destroys your credibility.

Visit Darien Library’s website for a list of some reliable sources that can help you distinguish credible information and news at darienlibrary.org/misinformation. Or contact your librarian.