It Takes a Village to Combat a Fake News Army: Wikipedia’s Community and Policies for Information Literacy
journal contributionposted on 23.04.2021, 14:53 by Zachary McDowellZachary McDowell, MA Vetter
The fake news crisis points to a complex set of circumstances in which new media ecologies struggle to address challenges related to authenticity, rhetorical manipulation and disinformation, and the inability of traditional educational models to adequately teach toward critical information literacy. While social media sites such as Facebook acknowledge the culpability of their platforms in spreading fake news, and create new strategies for addressing this problem, such measures are woefully inadequate. Wikipedia, nearing its 20th year, however, has developed numerous practices and policies to ensure information validity and verifiability. This article explores the connection between participation in the Wikipedia community, the development of critical information literacies, and the ability to navigate the current new media landscape. Analysis and review of Wikipedia’s community policies and the procedures resulting from these policies demonstrate the encyclopedia’s unique capacity to protect against problematic information. We ultimately argue that Wikipedia has become and remains one of the few places on the internet dedicated to combating fake news, and make recommendations on how to leverage Wikipedia practices and policies for information validation outside of the encyclopedia.