OLJ Task: Authentic Information in a Socially Networked World


Task: Based on your readings on issues related to finding authentic information within a socially networked world, identify two essential take-home messages that you believe will inform your work as an information professional.

Based on the readings, the first essential take-home message for me is one that relates to spam. It is clear from the readings that spam is an increasing issue and can adopt new formats in social network sites such as Twitter. Yardi, Romero, Schoenebeck and Boyd point to the effects that spammers can have in the Twitter universe by doing such things as retweeting and changing legitimate links to illegitimate ones (2010). The authors also make the point that spam accounts are hard to detect and that spammers ‘invest a lot of time in following other users (and hoping other users follow them back)’ (2010). This has two implications for me as an information professional working with young people. Firstly, when promoting library services in social network sites I need to be aware of spam accounts and what they are capable of. Secondly, in my experience, the young people I work with are very trusting online, so I need to better educate people about the dangers of spam (and other potentially serious consequences) of using social networking sites.

As a result of the readings, the second take-home message for me is one that relates to information literacy and critical thinking skills. Lorenzo writes of three primary skills that young people need; basic information technology skills, information literacy skills and critical thinking skills (2007, p.2). Lorenzo points to the fact that search engines are the most popular choice when looking for information and that young people ‘are at sea, drowning in a pool of information, looking for life preservers’ (2007, p.3). It is clear from this that guiding students when searching for and evaluating information is a critical need of learners today. Wittenberg adds to this message saying that librarians must see themselves as ‘partners’ with students when teaching students how to conduct research because students understand the ‘new ways in which people engage in research, communicate and learn’ (2007). Therefore the take-home message for me is two-fold; students need to better understand how to navigate the web and other sources when searching for and critically evaluating information. However, students may easily switch off if the teacher assumes the role of the all-knowing guide. Therefore, teachers must work together with students to better learn to navigate and evaluate the vast array of information that is now available at the click of a button.


Yardi, S., Romero, D., Schoenebeck, G. & Boyd, D. (2010). Detecting spam in a Twitter network, First Monday, 15(1), 4 January. Available http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2793/2431

Lorenzo, G. (2007). Catalysts for change: Information fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the new education culture. (March). Retrieved from http://www.edpath.com/images/IFReport2.pdf

Wittenberg, K. (2007). Credibility of content and the future of research, learning, and publishing in the digital environment. The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 10(1). Available  http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=jep;cc=jep;rgn=main;view=text;idno=3336451.0010.101