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Social Media in the Age of Misinformation, Part 3. "Disinformation and Fake News: What It Is and How Can We Fight It?"

In the last few years, we have heard the terms fake news, disinformation, misinformation, etc. repeatedly. Yet, we do not clearly know how to be better informed, fight this phenomenon, or to train people in combating it. With a vast majority of population relatively new to technology, and not trained in any formal way to decipher the real from unreal, truth from half-truths and lies, people actually end up believing disinformation as truth, especially when there is enough repetition.

In this talk, I will describe the phenomenon and its implications, the current efforts and their degree of success, and provide directions for information professionals to fight disinformation and fake news. - Understanding the terms such as fake news, misinformation, and disinformation - Understanding the role of social media in mediating the above - Identifying the steps that can be undertaken to prevent the diffusion of fake news


Naresh Agarwal is an Associate Professor and Director of the Information Science & Technology Concentration at the School of Library & Information Science at Simmons University, Boston. He earned his Ph.D. from the National University of Singapore (NUS). Naresh's research area is information behavior and knowledge management — the way people look for information and the contextual factors that impact their choice of information sources. He seeks to understand and synthesize the apparent contradictions in this phenomenon and tries to reconcile multiple perspectives — the user (context, seeking, sense-making, serendipity, avoiding) versus systems/technology, theoretical and empirical studies, and a variety of contexts — office workers, medical residents, LIS students, faculty, librarians, toddlers, etc. His publications span these areas. His book 'Exploring Context in Information Behavior: Seeker, situation, surroundings, and shared identities' was published by Morgan & Claypool.

Naresh also studies serendipitous information encountering and the causes and effects — both on the receiver and the sender — of information avoidance and non-response behaviors, especially by people who use smartphones and social media. He has been a keynote/invited speaker at workshops and conferences in different countries, including in the U.S., Japan, France, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

He has held various leadership positions at ASIS&T. He was a member of its Board of Directors, Co-Chaired its Annual Meeting in 2017, and was awarded the ASIS&T James M. Cretsos Leadership Award in 2012. Currently, he is the Chair-elect of SIG KM, Poster Co-Chair for the ASIS&T 2020 Annual Meeting and Advisor to the South Asia Chapter. Prior to entering the doctoral program at NUS, Naresh worked for six years in technology roles in the voice-over-IP, bioInformatics, and digital cinema industries.

Among other things, Agarwal has been a debater and public speaker and likes to paint in watercolor and oil. In 2018, he started an initiative to gather human stories through interviews to inspire other human stories. You can learn more about him at