Fact or fiction: Mount students learn tips to detect ‘fake news’ online

September 20, 2017

Denise Garofalo, associate librarian for systems and catalog services at Mount Saint Mary College’s Kaplan Family Library and Learning Center, discussed how to identify fake news stories on the internet.


Just because you see it on a friend’s Facebook feed doesn’t mean it’s true.

These are words to live by in the digital age, according to Denise Garofalo, associate librarian for systems and catalog services at Mount Saint Mary College’s Kaplan Family Library and Learning Center. On September 20, Garofalo presented a talk titled “Fake News: Sorting Truth from Fiction,” giving students the tools to weed out fraudulent news articles. Tips included consulting fact checking sites such as Snopes or, investigating the source of articles and citations, and relying on accuracy indicators like .gov websites and the blue authenticity checkmark on established Facebook pages.

Fake news has been around since colonial times, Garofalo revealed, but has become more prevalent with the advent of the internet. In fact, 67 percent of U.S. adults are now receiving their news through social media, she said, increasing the need for discretionary consumption.

Garofalo encouraged students to be skeptical and not take things at face value, explaining that as consumers of the media, everyone has a responsibility to demand accuracy and accountability from news sources. 

The talk was the first for the Mount’s Digital Citizenship Project, a series aimed at educating students on the importance of awareness when using digital media. The series, sponsored by the Mount’s Office of Online Learning, will continue with “Your Digital Footprint and Effective Passwords – How Your Digital Footprint Has Changed and Who’s Looking,” and conclude in November with “Cybersecurity Is Everyone’s Business.”

For students interested in a career in internet security, the Mount’s Division of Mathematics and Information Technology now offers a cybersecurity concentration for undergraduate IT majors. The program provides comprehensive coverage of technical, ethical, legal, and contemporary topics in the field; skills to identify and mitigate security vulnerabilities in software applications, operating systems, computer networks, and mobile networks; and an insider understanding of the mathematical algorithms behind encryption and decryption techniques.

There is an increasing demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals in the workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 200,000 cybersecurity-related jobs remained unfilled in 2016, which is projected to grow by 18 percent by the year 2024. The median annual wage for an information security analyst was above $90,000 in 2016.