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Knowledge & Library Services Blog

"I don't know what to believe!" - Fake news and how to spot it

by Cate Newell on 2021-06-18T14:22:24+01:00 in Knowledge & Library Services Awareness Week | Comments

Nowadays, information is so freely available that it can be difficult to know what to believe. Social Media is rife with rumours and misinformation, phony experts and fake news stories. Google is plagued with sensationalist and worst-case scenario health diagnoses, leaving the user crippled with anxiety.

When digital information is so easily available at our fingertips it can be both a blessing and a curse. Moreover, without a good understanding of digital literacy, health literacy and the correct skillset, any of us can be victims of misinformation. This can have disastrous consequences, leading to possible misdiagnoses, misinformed clinical practices and policies based on erroneous data.

This is why it is so important to only access valuable and trustworthy evidence. Knowing how to spot incorrect information on the internet can benefit both patients and clinicians alike. Not all fake news is easy to spot, ( such as misspelled Facebook "news" stories"). Predatory journals are a sad but very real phenomenon, where articles are published in journals without adequate scientific peer review, many of which are widely available on the internet.

In order to tackle misinformation, please contact your library service today. We can help you access the correct information, via evidence searches and our large collection of medical journals and books. If you access journal articles from our HDAS database (available on our library website), you can be assured that this information has undergone rigorous peer review by qualified experts.

However, if you do wish to find information yourself please remember these tips ( and pass them onto your patients too!)

  • Ignore articles which are poorly spelled or have "clickbait headlines"
  • Always seek information from official sources such as the NHS website
  • Check the address bar at the top – most trusted URLs end with “.com”, “.co.uk”, “.net”, “.gov”, “.org”, “.mil” and “.edu”
  • Do not share any new stories you see on social media as this can help the spread of fake news and health misinformation.

If in doubt, contact your friendly Library & Knowledge Services Team!

Florence Gregory
Library Assistant


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