Be critical of the digital world
In a nutshell:
- In a post-truth world you need to apply healthy scepticism to information in the digital world
- You will need to develop skills in critically evaluating information, spotting misinformation and fact checking
- Don’t outsource your critical thinking to computers!
- Be alert to fake news and learn how to evaluate before you share
Find out about critically evaluating information and spotting misinformation in the digital world.
‘Post-truth’, ‘fake news’ and ‘clickbait ’ are probably terms you are all familiar with. The drive to generate clicks, manipulate our choices and gather our data means that the digital world is a minefield of uncertainty with the potential to fall foul of the facts. Hopefully, you are already quite savvy about the need to apply healthy scepticism to information in the digital world.
As a digital citizen and digital scholar you can no longer rely on traditional sources. You will need to use and contribute to digital sources including websites, wikis, blogs, online video and social media. To make sure that the ones you choose to source or interact with are good enough quality for your academic work or to base work or life decisions on, you will need skills in critically evaluating information and spotting misinformation. These skills are connected to media literacy, critical reading and fact checking.
With so much information available online - how do you know what to use?
This video starts to explain how you can know what to trust.
And this video explains some Criteria for evaluating information (Falmouth login required).
As with more traditional sources you need to think about bias, motive and authority of a source.
The CRAAP test provides a good framework for evaluating information considering currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose. Question who the publisher is and what their motives for publishing are. Context is everything.
- Who created it? What are their credentials?
- Is it accurate? Can you verify it elsewhere?
- Why has it been created? Is it objective, or is its purpose to persuade or sell?
- When was it created?
- Can you make use of the information and put it into context?
Fake News and misinformation are not new, but they are increasingly used to drive web traffic and influence your choices and can spread much more quickly via social media.
Misinformation is sometimes deliberate when a sensationalised story is created as 'clickbait' to encourage you to follow a link only to find adverts or a misleading story beyond. Fake news may not be completley untrue information but sometimes manipulated to deceive or twist the facts.
Some social media sites are introducing their own fact checking criteria, but there is an argument that it's dangerous to outsource our critical thinking to computers
If you have the skills to check facts and evaluate sources yourself you won't need to rely on others to do it for you.
Guides to Fact Checking
You can fact check the news yourself before you share it, These guides will help you.
- 10 top tips for spotting Fake News
- Fake or real? How to spot check the news and get the facts
- The Full Fact Toolkit
- First Draft News - videos and tools to help you verify what you find
There are also fact checking websites such as:
Have a look at the Studyhub Research Skills section which should help you develop skills in critical evaluation.