With the rise of fake news on social media, can information literacy impact how students evaluate information on their social media channels?

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Kiernan, Róisín
Issue Date
MSc Information and Library Management
Dublin Business School
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In recent years, the term “fake news” has come to the fore online, and more specifically, on social media networks. This was heavily influenced by the now president of the United States, Donald Trump. However, despite this significant rise in fake news online, few studies have examined what impact this is having on students. For this reason, this research sets out to explore the role that information literacy, namely information evaluation, has on third level students’ ability to evaluate information on their social media channels. This exploratory research gathers primary data from students through the means of a questionnaire that was disseminated through the Dublin Business School Moodle site. A number of key findings were gathered, and in turn interesting recommendations were made. One of the most significant findings was that half of students are unaware of the term information literacy or information skills, but also, the majority know how to use information literacy skills, such as referencing and online evaluation. Another finding was that students are less likely to check what they are reading on their social media networks is real, in comparison to if they are reading for an assignment. This is likely due to the fact that they know that they are not being marked on their work, and so this can sometimes encourage them to comment and share on articles that they have not checked are factual. This can lead to the spread of fake news. There is obviously an opening for information literacy skills to be carried over and used to evaluate social media. Librarians and information professionals already possess the means to teach students how to evaluate online. Also, librarians need to rebrand the term “information literacy” so that it is more appealing to students.