NLB stepping up efforts to arm the public with critical thinking skills in fight against fake news

The National Library Board is stepping up efforts to inculcate critical thinking skills across society, its director Wai Yin Pryke said on the sixth day of public hearings on deliberate online falsehoods.
National Library Board's director Wai Yin Pryke said it is important to demystify information literacy, which boils down to four things - checking the source, understanding the information, doing deeper research and evaluating the information critica
National Library Board's director Wai Yin Pryke said it is important to demystify information literacy, which boils down to four things - checking the source, understanding the information, doing deeper research and evaluating the information critically.PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - In the fight against fake news, the National Library Board (NLB) is playing its part by stepping up efforts to inculcate critical thinking skills across society, its director Wai Yin Pryke said on Tuesday (March 27).

She said it is important to demystify information literacy, which boils down to four things - checking the source, understanding the information, doing deeper research and evaluating the information critically.

Critical evaluation skills have never been more important, given how people are inundated with information, whether at work, school or play, said Ms Pryke, who was speaking at the Select Committee hearing on deliberate online falsehoods.

The National Library launched the SURE (Source, Understand, Research, Evaluate) campaign in 2013 to raise public awareness on information literacy, working with the Ministry of Education to develop educational resources for schools and conduct training workshops for teachers, parents and working adults.

The campaign has now been expanded to inculcate information literacy skills among adults as well.

For example, the NLB will conduct talks for adults, especially seniors, and engage with citizens through digital platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

Ms Pryke said: "Senior citizens are a particularly vulnerable group. They tend to think that because something has been published it must be true. So the challenge is to help them be more discerning."

 
 

The talks will use everyday examples of falsehoods to teach these seniors how to be more critical of information they receive, she added.

In its efforts, the NLB hopes to combat the "sense of helplessness" around deliberate online falsehoods, she said.

While the public is well aware that fake news exists, many do not really know what to do about it. "With education they can gain agency and practise their skills," she said.

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, Dr Janil Puthucheary, asked how NLB can close the gap between the sources of truthful material it curates and the sources of fake news such as Facebook and WhatsApp, where it is not traditionally active.

Ms Pryke noted that libraries are very active on the popular messaging app WeChat in China.

"I'm thinking we may have to take a serious good look at how we can make sure we are present on those platforms where fake news dominate," she added.

Public hearings to fight online falsehoods: Read the submissions here and watch more videos.