Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Let's Stay Connected

Creating this blog is one way the Library can keep in touch with users while the building is closed due to the CoVid-19 pandemic. We want your comments, responses, and input to keep the conversation about current events, books and ideas going, despite being largely confined to our homes. What are you doing to stay connected? All are welcome to participate! -SB

Sorting Rumors from Facts: How to Navigate the Web During Information Overload

According to NewsGuard, an organization that evaluates the credibility and reliability of news sources, there are well over 100 websites currently disseminating misinformation about the novel coronavirus.  These can be sorted into three types:

1. False claims about the origin of the illness
2. Phony cures
3. Items that downplay the seriousness of the pandemic

An example of a false claim might be the rumors that the virus was originally created as a bioweapon. Phony cures may be someone trying to sell something that has no data to back it up. Downplaying the virus could take the form of saying it’s “no worse than the flu” or “it’s just another type of common cold” or "it's just a hoax."

NewsGuard reports that the best defense against this type of disinformation is to take the following steps:

1. Look at the source of the information
2. See what other sources say about the subject
3. Check the date--is it current?
4. Consider the motivation

To access other information sources, you can do your own Google search. To consider the motivation, ask yourself “is someone trying to make a quick buck from this?” Never forget the old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

One tool that’s available to evaluate an information source is the NewsGuard browser extension. NewsGuard provides background information about sources and their credibility. It is easy to use and is currently free to download until July 1st. NewsGuard does not censor or block any information, it simply gives it a rating as shown in the image below.

You can check out the NewsGuard add-on for yourself if you're interested.

Have you run across examples of reliable or unreliable sources of information lately? -SB