Not Just RTs: Using Twitter to Engage Diverse Perspectives

Image credit: eldh on Flickr (cc by)

Following the election and the library’s Inauguration Day fake news workshop, many of us re-examined our relationship with social media and the way information informs our decision making. As a librarian, I am constantly seeking information to support folks in their research, work, and daily lives. It makes me crazy to think that all of the things I see and read may be fake or created by trolls just to go viral. I don’t watch network news (way too much violence for me) so Twitter has really filled a void in my life for current stories and issues affecting my community and the world. But, as we see, Twitter has its own special brand of trolls and it is extremely hard to evaluate every single thing that shows up in your timeline. So what is a concerned citizen to do? Here are several helpful hints I use that serve as a great starting point:

First things first: Follow, Follow, Follow

Think about the messages that you have on your current timeline. Ask yourself:

  • Who are they?
  • With whom are they affiliated?
  • Are they all saying the exact same things?

Diversify the voices you follow. Follow folks who seem to be the first with verified information. Remember that the check mark does not make them authoritative (Snoop Dogg has one, remember?) You want to build a timeline that is both current but has valuable things being shared from differing perspectives. It will give you a better view of what is happening and why some people may support it.

Lists Are Your New BFF

Lists are a way to group users that you follow into a singular timeline. For example, I have a list of investigative journalists that I know have up to date information about policy and national events. Anytime I want to check out what they are up to or any comments they have on current topics, I can use my list to see them all at once. This also doesn’t require you to follow every person on the list. This way you can keep up with tweets without actually boosting social media for folks. You can also subscribe to lists made by others. This is a good shortcut if you aren’t sure exactly who to follow but have a trusted source already on Twitter. I use a non-partisan website’s list of all the folks serving in Congress to keep up with the hill.

Act then Retweet

Using Twitter to share your opinions is completely reasonable. However, when it comes to fake news and trolls, we have to consider what we are sharing and how this may impact folks around us. If you are truly passionate about something shared, investigate a bit (maybe reverse image search or verify its origins).

If it checks out, follow through with the action, then share.

Today post was written by Aisha Conner-Gaten, Instructional Design Librarian. Image credit: eldh on Flickr (cc by)