Skip to main content

Audrey Watters

Anti-Racist Literacy and Facebook

2 min read

Cross-posted to Facebook

A student asked me last week after I spoke about “higher education in the disinformation age” what I’d suggest she do when she sees dis- and misinformation on Facebook.

In some way, her question was not “how do I fact-check online.” (If she was thinking about fact-checking, she’s already ahead of the game.)

Her question was really “should I say something?” As much of the dis- and misinformation on Facebook is deeply intertwined with bigotry –racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, jingoism, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslimism, and so on – I do believe it is crucial to speak up. (But I also recognize that it can be challenging in many circumstances to decide how to respond. How to respond depends on the poster, for starters, on one’s relationship to her or him.)

A lot of the work on “___ literacy” lately has focused on the skills that everyone needs in order to decipher information online. (For better or for worse. Rolin Moe and Mike Caulfield have pointed out that, at best, it’s mostly for nothing.) But I would argue that this work also needs to be explicitly anti-racist as well.