Info Lit and Fake News

MSNBC Newsroom
By fimoculous from Seattle (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Lately we’ve heard so much buzz about fake news.  As fake news has long been with us–perhaps as long as we’ve had news, let’s keep the hype in perspective.  Still, we can’t ignore the context in which we currently share news.

Social media allow us to share news on an unprecedented scale, which leaves little time for deep evaluation.  They blur intended audiences as well.  I may share a satiric piece with someone who knows that it is satire.  Someone who is not in on the joke may also see the post, and share it with others who are not in on the joke.  Those others may share the post and so on.

By “in on the joke” I mean more than simply recognizing a specific piece as satire.  I mean having the background knowledge that experienced information consumers take for granted.  We may know the reputation of certain sites, but we can’t assume that novices know the same things.  Likewise we can’t assume that novice searchers know all of the tricks that experienced searchers know.

Caulfield (2016) raises the issues of background knowledge.  He notes how common information literacy approaches are decontextualized, though information (and misinformation) exists in context.  The scope of social media is part of that context.


Caulfield, M. (2016, December 19).  Yes, digital literacy.  But which one?  [Blog post].  Retrieved from

P.S.  Thanks to Sarah Lucchesi, USM’s Learning Services Librarian, for alerting me to the Caulfield blog post.

P.P.S.  The image choice is not intended as a commentary on MSNBC: It was simply an available image of a newsroom.

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