Feb. 3rd, 2017

deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
A story from International Business Times went viral last night: Donald Trump White House Dress Code Policy? Female Staffers Must ‘Dress Like Women,’ President Says. It's terrible, and confirms everything we believe about Trump. It spawned a hashtag, #DresslikeaWoman. It's also not true.

It hurts the fight against Trump to share false stories about Trump. It makes us weaker.

Information literacy -- the ability to recognize when you need to acquire information, and the skill set to locate and assess the quality of that information -- is one of the most important skills we can have in this #AlternativeFacts, #FakeNews era. While the Trump administration has used the fake news label as a pejorative against any story with which he disagrees, or which has any facts which are contradicted by other sources, we know better. Fake news is the reporting of false stories, or true stories reported with hyperbolic, overblown, or outright false context. In the social media snippet era, in which all of us are guilty of sharing stories we haven't read or investigated based on headline, a tweet, or a brief Facebook post, we are all responsible for being more careful.

There are a lot of ways librarians teach information literacy. One of them ("trust sites that end with .gov") is getting seriously rethought in the Donald Trump era. One of the other important ones is both assessing whether or not something that appears to be a news site actually is a reputable news site. Advanced information literacy techniques include understanding the different kind of sources of information even reputable news sites use, and understanding how to assess their likely truth value. Note this is not a way of addressing the question of whether sources lie or disagree with one another. That's going to happen, and that much harder to address. But we should be able to understand when a story is flat out, on its face, total garbage.

So what's wrong with the "Dress Like a Woman" story? Everything.

how to see the story is false )

One of Trump's methods for success in 2016 was that he accomplishes six outrageous, inhumane, and occasionally illegal actions before breakfast. How can you cover a man whose every pronouncement is ridiculous? It leaves us unable to focus on any one of them to the extent that we should. So much as happened in the last 48 hours that people have already forgotten that he casually threatened to invade Mexico. He's a fire hose of hate and incompetence.

(ETA: An anon in the comments points out that I got not played myself in this piece about being careful about not being played. Although the original allegations about Trump's threat to send troops to Mexico was reported by the Associated Press, both the White House and the Mexican government deny those allegations.)

This means two things:
  1. Getting outraged about things that didn't happen is a distraction from being outraged about that far worse things that actually did happen.
  2. There is literally no purpose in making up fake stories about crappy things he is doing, because there is a mountain of crap that is actually happening.


In this era, a responsible citizen must read beyond the headline, read beyond the lede, read beyond the tweet or the Facebook repost.
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