Spotlight on Fake News Highlights Need for Authoritative Sources and Triangulation

The 2016 presidential election has shed a spotlight on the emergence and subsequent impact of freely available false news stories on social media sites and the Internet. False news sites are not new and academic librarians have been teaching students to recognize hoax and fake websites for many years now. What is different this year is the volume of sites now available and the aggressiveness of producing them for a particular gain.

As I stated in an earlier post, one of the biggest challenges faced when performing research for supply market intelligence is determining the correct resources to use. This particularly addresses the need for using authoritative, credible information for intelligence investigation, which should be the top consideration when evaluating research resources. This can be a challenge but the number one thing to remember is that the authority of the research resource rests with the credibility of the author or organization responsible for producing the information. When you are determining credibility from an Internet source, there are many things to consider, such as the impartiality and timeliness of the data being presented and the motivation of the provider.

In our book on supply market intelligence, Kelly Barner and I dedicate an entire chapter to quality assurance and cover the concept of Triangulation:

Particularly in cases where there is no budget for subscription-based services or purchased reports, procurement has to rely on a combination of Internet research and discretion. The best approach for assuring quality under these conditions is triangulation, where a single data point is not allowed to form the center of intelligence. Instead, procurement must find several independent sources that say the same or similar things. The actual truth is likely to be where the information found in those sources intersects or overlaps. Even when there are questions of accuracy, objectivity, or credibility, a plausible conclusion is still possible.

It cannot be stated strongly enough that the important decisions procurement professionals make must be made from a foundation built on credible authoritative information.

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