What Is It?
This book is an accompaniment to a free, open, online course – . For those choosing to take the course, the book expands upon the topics, following the general structure of each module. For those only reading the book, it provides a foundational knowledge of the issue of disinformation in the online environment and provides a variety of tools to enable readers to become more informed digital citizens.
The educational theme that underpins the entire book is that an introductory understanding of various literacies (information, media, digital and meta) combined with critical thinking skills is the best path towards effective online information evaluation. Chapters one through four each cover a single literacy, providing background information on relevant associated topics and concluding with an explanation of that literacy. Those four chapters are tied together in the last chapter which offers tools and frameworks to help readers critically evaluate information. Finally, the appendix contains a glossary which includes important concepts.
Who Are We?
Our team works in libraries. For centuries library professionals have been the gatekeepers and organizers of reliable and trustworthy information across the globe and in all fields of study. One might consider a library just a place to find a book to read, but they are so much more. They employ information professionals who have made careers of helping people find truthful information. Increasingly, at all types of libraries, information professionals are developing teaching materials to assist patrons with the skills needed to differentiate between high- and low-quality information off and online.
We are academic librarians who have spent a decade delivering information evaluation sessions to students and in doing so we have experienced the impact that false information has on people’s ability to function in society, whether that be as a community member, a student or a professional. With the help of a research assistant (also an information professional), we have written a book that is meant to provide a jumping off point for more learning. We do not consider ourselves experts in various disciplines that are featured throughout the book, namely: media, news, journalism, psychology, and computer technology. These are fields that are critical to an understanding of information disorder and disinformation, so in our efforts to effectively educate in our field (information), we have attempted to learn about and provide some facts from these disciplines as they relate to this topic. This writing is all based on our examination of literature, and we are open to scrutiny from experts from various disciplines. It is our hope that the book will spark meaningful conversations and, in a small way, make the world a slightly more balanced place.
Throughout this book, we will use the terms information disorder, false information, and disinformation to encompass various trends that are having an impact on the online information environment. When one of these terms is used, it is a reference to various concepts that have similar meaning. and false information are catchall terms for misinformation, disinformation and malinformation. When we use information disorder, we are referring to those three concepts collectively. False information is used in place of misinformation or fake news at times when the use of those terms isn’t clear. is used when referring to concepts whose key purpose is to manipulate and cause harm – those include: malinformation, fake news, propaganda, deformation, and of course, disinformation. When we first embarked on this project, we felt that disinformation was the most harmful. We have since learned that all the different concepts come together to create an environment of disarray. However, we have chosen to continue to utilize disinformation, as it is still a concept of great concern that encompasses various other phenomena, and because it fits well into our clickbait title.
A phenomenon consisting of three concepts: misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation. Together, they encompass the creation and sharing of false information, by individuals or artificial intelligence, for various purposes.
False or inaccurate information, created and shared by someone with the intent to cause harm.