In the digital era, with the overabundance of information available, there is a growing need for news stories and sources to be verified and validated. Fake news is not a fresh phenomenon. Since the US presidential campaign of Trump and the United Kingdom Brexit campaign, there has been concern about the profligate spread of Fake News on social media. The increase of the fake news phenomenon has had a significant impact on the evident legitimacy of our media systems and democracy in particular. So, from the individual to the political, from the national to the universal, fake news has affected our lives.
Today, through the spread of fake news, social media is regarded as fuel, making civil society cruel and ruthless. Library and Information Science (LIS) professionals have been teaching information literacy, “It is 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.” (ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education 2015).However, in this disinformation epoch, this is not sufficient; we need to teach “Metaliteacy”. According to The Pew Research Center, “A majority of U.S. adults – 62% get their news in real-time from social media feeds”. There’s no watchman on social media verifying what appears on our news source for exactness or objectivity. In this circumstance, Metaliteacy is regarded as a prime weapon to fight against misinformation. The use of “meta” – from the Greek meaning after, beyond and encompassing –seems appropriate, because it implies that first, one must master the fundamentals and then move beyond them.
According to Mackey and Jacobson, “the concept of metaliteracy expands the scope of traditional information literacy skills to include literacies such as media literacy, digital literacy, cyber literacy, visual literacy, mobile literacy, critical literacy, health literacy, transliteracy, new media literacy, ICT (Information & Computer Technology) literacy, and information fluency which are critical for individuals in the modern-day society and education. These literacies require competencies in the collaborative production and sharing of information in participatory environments.
Metaliteracy Model (n.d.). Available at http://metaliteracy.cdlprojects.com/what.htm
Metaliteracy emphasizes the development of metacognitive (knowledge and understanding of your own thinking) abilities to represent the assignment after it has been completed. It encourages reflective learning, active and critical involvement in social environments, including social media, and adaptability of emerging technologies.
Metaliteracy provides the foundation for media literacy, digital literacy, ICT literacy, visual literacy, cyber literacy, and critical literacies. While information literacy prepares people to access, assess and analyze information, metaliteracy prepares people to actively generate and share content through internet and social media groups.
Therefore, in today’s social media world, we need to become metaliterate which will prepare us to think critically about the locations we visit online and create intelligent search strategies that will safeguard our identity. A metaliterate person will be able to consume the existing information, produce new information and share it on participatory digital environments.A metaliterate person ensures that when sharing information, it is precise and there are ethical factors engaged. Therefore, we should take initiatives to teach people about metaliteracy because only metaliterate people realize that they need to think closely about what they’re saying, whether they’re posting a tweet, blog, Facebook post or writing a reply to others online.
The writer is an Assistant Librarian, East-West University. Email: [email protected]