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Fake News and Information Literacy: Glossary


Anecdotal Evidence: evidence based on theory, opinion, or informal observation rather than systematic research. Whereas empirical evidence is evidence based on facts obtained through scientific observation, investigation, or experimentation.

Bias: to incline to or towards; to cause to swerve (first used in 1641). (OED through library databases)

‚ÄčClickbait: "Something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest" (Merriam-Webster).

Commentary: "An expression of opinions or offering of explanations about an event or situation" (Oxford Dictionaries). It is important that we understand the difference between commentary and reporting. 

Digital Literacy: "The ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills" (American Library Association Digital Literacy Task Force).

Disinformation: dissemination of deliberately false information esp. when supplied by a government or through its agent to a foreign power or to the media with the intention of influencing the policies or opinions of those who receive it (first used in 1955). (OED through library databases)

Editorial: "An article in a newspaper or other periodical or on a website presenting the opinion of the publisher, writer, or editor; A statement broadcast on radio or television that presents the opinion of the owner, manager, or the like, of the program, station, or channel" (

Empirical Evidence: evidence based on facts obtained through scientific observation, investigation, or experimentation. Whereas anecdotal evidence is evidence based on theory, opinion, or informal observation rather than systematic research.

Fact: "Something that has actual existence; an actual occurrence; a piece of information presented as having objective reality; something that really exists or has occurred" (Merriam-Webster).

Fake News: news that is "completely made up, manipulated to resemble credible journalism and attract maximum attention and, with it, advertising revenue. The definition is often expanded to include websites that circulate distorted, decontextualized or dubious information through – for example – clickbaiting headlines that don’t reflect the facts of the story, or undeclared bias" (The Guardian).

Falsehood: "An untrue statement" (Merriam-Webster).

Filter Bubble: Acording to Technopedia, a filter bubble is the intellectual isolation that can occur when websites make use of algorithms to selectively assume the information a user would want to see, and then give information to the user according to this assumption. Websites make these assumptions based on the information related to the user, such as former click behavior, browsing history, search history and location. For that reason, the websites are more likely to present only information that will abide by the user's past activity. A filter bubble, therefore, can cause users to get significantly less contact with contradicting viewpoints, causing the user to become intellectually isolated. Personalized search results from Google and personalized news stream from Facebook are two perfect examples of this phenomenon. (Technopedia)

Hoax: "An act that is meant to trick or deceive people; To trick [people] into thinking something is true or real when it isn't" (Merriam-Webster).

Information Literacy: "The set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning" (Association of College and Research Libraries).

Information: knowledge communicated concerning some particular fact, subject, or event that of which one is apprised or told; intelligence, news (first used in 1390). (OED through library databases)

Mainstream Media: "Mainstream media outlets are found on television, radio, online and in newspapers and other publications. They include TV networks like ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as national news channels like CNN and Fox News. They also include websites like MSNBC and large newspapers like The New York Times and USA Today. Mainstream media sources are usually easy to find, and they reach large audiences" (Houston Chronicle).

Misinformation: the condition of being misinformed (first used in 1587). (OED through library databases). "Misinformation is information that is false, but the person who is disseminating it believes that it is true" (Quora).

Newspeak: "Deliberately ambiguous and contradictory language used to mislead and manipulate the public (The Free Dictionary). This term was introduced by George Orwell in his 1949 anti-utopian novel 1984 ... [and] was characterized by the elimination or alteration of certain words, the substitution of one word for another, the interchangeability of parts of speech, and the creation of words for political purposes." (Merriam-Webster).

Omission: the passive failure to disclose something (McGregor, J. 2017, January 1). When telling the truth is dishonest. Washington Post. (OED first used in c1400)

Opinion Piece: "An article in which the writer expresses their personal opinion, typically one which is controversial or provocative, about a particular issue or item of news" (Oxford Dictionaries).

Paltering: the active use of a truthful statement to mislead someone (McGregor, J. 2017, January 1). When telling the truth is dishonest. Washington Post. (OED first used in 1580)

Parody: "An imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect" (Oxford Dictionaries).

Propaganda: systematic dissemination of information esp. in a biased or misleading way in order to promote a political cause or point of view. (first used in 1882) (OED through library databases)

Satire: "The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues" (Oxford Dictionaries).

Truth: conformity with fact; agreement with reality; accuracy or correctness in a statement, thought, etc. (first used in c1440) (OED through library databases)

Urban Legend: an entertaining story or piece of information circulated as though true (first used in 1931. See also urban myth). (OED through library databases)