Spatial Reserves

How to Spot Fake News – and Implications for GIS Practitioners

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An infographic created by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) entitled “How to Spot Fake News” is, I believe, instructive for the GIS practitioner to review.   The IFLA gave permission for others to share their infographic which I have done below.  Why might this be helpful for the GIS community?

As we frequently comment in this blog, just because you can map your own or other people’s data in any projection, color, and classification method you choose, and share the results with anyone you choose, doesn’t make that data flawless!  Maps are powerful sources of information and they need to be treated with respect.  The sources need to be carefully considered and documented.  We as the geospatial community have a solemn mission–because of the advent of web GIS, more and more of what we do is viewed by the wider community, many of whom are not GIS professionals.

Thus, “Consider the source”, “check the author” and “check the date” should make those creating maps to think immediately about paying careful attention to metadata.  But because your map user is likely not to check a metadata file, is there something you can place on your map so that that the user at least is aware of the data source(s) and can link to further information?  The “read beyond” and “ask the experts” components are an additional challenge–what is the full story behind the map?  How can the researcher conduct his or her own investigation?  And, with so many maps as “eye candy” these days, such as the most popular search word in each state or food in each country, the “is it a joke” component is more relevant than ever.  Here, we advocate for map readers to be critical of “fun posts” too. 

An added benefit of the infographic is that it is available in about 25 different languages.  And, in keeping with the theme of “knowing your data”, even with the infographic we are discussing here, I encourage you to read the text that IFLA used to create the document, on Factcheck,org, here.

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