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Saying ‘No’ to Fake News This Election Season

by Diana Laughlin, Program Services Supervisor

The 2018 election is only days away. There are two simple things we can do to take an active role in supporting democracy. One is to vote. Greater voter participation means a more engaged citizenry, and in turn, a healthier democracy.

Second, we can say ‘no’ to fake news. That means evaluating the credibility of sources, whether it’s from an email, a website, or social media. Some sources can be verified, while others are difficult to distinguish, falling somewhere on that vast spectrum between highly reliable to outright deceptive.

Nearly 300 people attended our four-part News Literacy program series last spring. In the process, many participants told us they were motivated to use what they’d learned to carefully analyze information they receive—evaluating it for quality, accuracy, biases, omissions, and sometimes hidden agendas. “I will no longer Like and Share on Facebook without fact checking,” declared one participant.

Following up on requests from last spring, we’re pleased to offer two special programs next week.

Join us this Monday, November 5, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. for the workshop, “How to Stop Fake News”: Register Here. In this interactive program, we’ll learn why it’s more difficult than ever to distinguish news from opinion, entertainment, and advertising, and how filter bubbles are sorting information through our social media feeds that is skewed toward our existing biases.

According to a Pew Research Center 2016 study, 62% of U.S. adults get news through social media. Sharing articles—especially stories intended to create a strong reaction—are a breeding ground of fake news. We’ll explore the forms of misleading information that are out there, and how to use solid strategies to separate what’s real from what’s fake. Bring your device or laptop, or borrow a library laptop as we evaluate together.

Then on Thursday, November 8, at 7 p.m. at Reel Mountain Theater, we host a special one-night-only screening of the acclaimed 2017 film, The Post. We received many recommendations for this film last spring. Bring your library card for free admission.

Set in 1971, the movie tells the story of The Washington Post newspaper, as its publisher and editors wrestle with the consequences of printing the Pentagon Papers to inform the public of a massive government cover-up. The characters balance their sense of duty with the risks of potential jail time and financial ruin. The Post is both a journalistic thriller and homage to the safeguards of a free press.

Libraries have a legacy of providing access to a wide variety of information sources, and in helping people evaluate for themselves what is reliable and credible. These programs are in response to one of our key Strategic Objectives, as identified by you: “Engage community members in current affairs and decision-making.”

Join us on this journey, as we all become wiser citizens together.