doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts


Like many, I turn to the a Toronto newspaper every now and again to check out some of the opinion pieces that are presented in the middle of other news stories. The newspaper allows for comments on articles using a Facebook plug-in. This can be really problematic for credibility. If you click to find more about the author, many times there is a limited account. Or, more often than not, there is no link to an actual source of the comment. That makes it impossible to determine whether or not the comment comes from a real person or something else…

I suspect that so many are just from the category of “something else”. Either bots or people assuming a negative role and don’t have the guts to formally identify themselves.

Imagine running your own blog and allowing just anyone to reply. Spammers have been the bane of my blogging existence since my first post, it seems!

Most of the articles that I do read tend to be about education. I do try to understand both sides but credibility only comes when I determine that a position is based on real facts from a real person. The rest are scanned for amusement and then forgotten.

If you follow politics south of the border, you’ll know that “fake news” continues to be a concern as they lead into an election later this year.

Jigsaw, from Google, look really deeply into making the web a better place. Of interest is the section about Disinformation in The Current. In particular, the Data Visualizer really caught my interest.

I explored the map but switched to the Index mode to see all of the examples. There’s a list of disinformation and actions that were taken with the articles. My initial thought is that these were just a drop in the bucket. The majority of the content is labelled Open Web and Social Media. Then, the message that “what goes on the internet can never be taken down completely” nagged at me from the back of my head. I’ve always described it as a digital version of whack-a-mole.

This resource is fascinating and a great source to make me continue to read with my eyes wide open.

It’s also a really important reminder about the need for media literacy and to understand just what it is you’re reading and its source. The problem is that those who would spread disinformation are getting better at it and evaluating credibility is harder than ever. We’ve always counselled people to validate with known credible sources. What happens, though, when information spreads so quickly these sources can’t catch up.

Then you can easily make the wrong assumption. Sunday morning, I saw that #Leafs was trending on Twitter. I scanned a few messages and read about the Emergency Goalie. I’d never heard of that before and thought that it might be “fake news”. So, I turned to my credible source – that Toronto newspaper. I read the story and then the comments. Talk about your mixed media.

So, what makes for a credible source anyway? Media that you agree with? It seems to me that there are no hard and fast answers here. We’re going to be hearing about this and trying to do things as far into the future as I can see.

2 responses to “Jigsaw”

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