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Fake News

What is fake news? Why should you care? How can you avoid it? Find out all this and more, in the UVic Libraries Fake News Guide.

Consequences of fake news

Why should you care about the proliferation of fake news? Who does it harm, and how?

The spread of fake news can have both personal and academic consequences. In a perfect world everything reported would be based only on facts and you would be able to trust that the media you consume is reliable. But unfortunately that’s not the case. You should learn to spot false information because fake news can:

  • Call into question the credibility of your sources. As a student you are expected to find, evaluate, and reference trustworthy information sources in a variety of formats. If you include fake news as evidence for your arguments or as part of your research it may raise doubts about the integrity of the sources you use as a whole and your ability to identify quality information. Maintain the respect of your professors, peers, friends, and family by citing only true, credible news and information sources.
  • Provide you with false, misleading, or deceptive information used to make a decision or take action. It can be dangerous to do something without having all the facts, but it can be just as detrimental to do so based on inaccurate information. Whether it’s political, medical, academic, or personal, you need to be able to recognize when the information you are taking in can be trusted to help you make an intelligent, fact-based choice.
  • Confirm your biases. It’s even more difficult to question information that affirms what you believe or lends itself as proof to an argument you’re making. But just as an article touting something that you don’t agree with isn’t always fake news, information that you do agree with isn’t always real. Keep an open mind and leave your beliefs and opinions out of it when evaluating news.
  • Lead to lack of belief or trust in scientific findings. As more and more individuals fall for information online that directly opposes scientific research, researchers are increasingly put in the position of having to defend the validity of their findings. When information dissemination was limited to print, television, and radio there was less opportunity for individuals to publicly comment on, criticize, or refute knowledge presented by experts. With social media and the internet more broadly, it is now possible for groups to push misinformation that aligns with their beliefs and disparage that which does not.
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