Fake News or Free Speech: Is There a Right to be Misinformed?

NOTE: This past webinar has now been archived. The recording can be viewed below for free or on YouTube.

Fake News or Free Speech: Is There a Right to be Misinformed?"Fake news" has always been part of the communication landscape. The difference now is that we are inundated with social media that makes it possible to disseminate "fake news” quickly and easily. In the past "fake news" was used as propaganda to isolate individuals or groups of people, destabilize governments, and foment anarchy. "Fake news" may be inaccurate, dishonest, misleading, intentionally untrue, and even intended to damage the paradigm of factual information. But is it illegal? Is it protected by the First Amendment? Can "fake news" -- or suppressing it -- undermine our democratic way of life?

This is a preview of the Intellectual Freedom Committee program that Moderator Emily Knox and other panelists will offer at ALA’s Annual Meeting this summer. 

This archived webinar was originally presented April 25, 2018


Learning Outcomes

  • Participants will learn to define and engage in discussion on the topic of Fake News
  • Attendees will gain deeper insight into the First Amendment and legal aspects of Fake News
  • The webinar will encourage thoughtful dialogue around a prevalent topic in our current political and educational climate

Who Should Attend

  • Librarians and library students
  • Educators
  • Individuals involved in media, publishing, and social media
  • Individuals interested in the first amendment, censorship, copyright, and legal aspects of news, media, and social media


Emily Knox is an assistant professor in the School of Information Sciences (the iSchool) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include information access, intellectual freedom and censorship, information ethics, information policy, and the intersection of print culture and reading practices.

Nicole Cooke is an Assistant Professor and MS/LIS Program Director at the School of Information Sciences, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she is also the Program Director for the MS in Library and Information Science program. Dr. Cooke’s research and teaching interests include human information behavior (particularly in the online context), critical cultural information studies, and diversity and social justice in librarianship (with an emphasis on infusing them into LIS education and pedagogy).

Joyce Valenza ~ After completely 25 years as a teacher librarian in K12 education, and several more as a public and special librarian, Joyce joined the faculty of Rutgers University where she prepares future librarians to lead cultures of literacy and to engage communities. She speaks globally about the thoughtful use of technology in learning, emerging literacies and the power of librarians to lead. In 2017 she was awarded AASL's new Social Media Leadership Luminary Award.

Mary Minow is a Berkman Klein Center fellow 2017-18 at Harvard University. Previously she was an Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative fellow at Harvard, and prior to that a library law consultant on issues such as privacy, intellectual freedom and copyright. She serves on the boards of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Digital Public Library of America. She is on the steering committee of the Simmons Know News: Engaging with Mis- and Disinformation (School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College) and is working on a fake news project with the Berkman Klein Center and the American Library Association to offer social media users self-help tools.





How to Register


Tech Requirements

You’ll need a stable internet connection and working headphones/speakers.


Questions about content should be directed to the Freedom to Read Foundation, ftrf@ala.org. You can also find FTRF on Facebook, Twitter, and online. Join us today to have access to this and other educational opportunities.  Students may receive a 1-year free FTRF membership through the Robert P. Holley Fund

Questions about registration should be directed to the Office for Intellectual Freedomoif@ala.org or 312-280-4226.

Subscribe to future issues of Intellectual Freedom News, a free biweekly compilation of news delivered to your email by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom including

  • Current book challenges in libraries and schools
  • Articles about privacy, internet filtering and censorship
  • ALA activities, conferences and institutes, products, online learning opportunities, awards and grants, international exchanges, and more
  • How to get involved and make the most of what ALA offers

You can also find the Office for Intellectual Freedom on , and online, or email the office at oif@ala.org.

Intellectual Freedom eLearning

Sponsored by the Freedom to Read Foundation

Why be a member of the Freedom to Read Foundation?

Freedom to Read Foundation members:

  • Help defend the First Amendment in the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Support librarians and teachers around the country besieged by attempts to restrict library materials and services
  • Qualify for discounts for upcoming events

Freedom to Read EducationYour Freedom to Read Foundation membership helps the foundation accomplish these objectives: 

  • Have a stronger voice in the courts, within the library community, and in the public arena - more members and more resources mean greater visibility for the freedom to read
  • Implement our strategic plan that includes an interactive website, more educational and legal initiatives, and better communication with members
  • Increase organizational capacity to ensure the continued vitality of the Freedom to Read Foundation for many years to come

Most importantly, as the Freedom to Read Foundation continues to monitor and actively participate in court cases at the state and federal levels, your membership helps ensure its ability to defend free speech. The foundation is particularly concerned about continued threats to our privacy, and of overzealous internet filters in libraries, which are too often used to create barriers to access constitutionally protected information. In a free country, access to such information should not be constrained.

As a member of the Freedom to Read Foundation, you do make a difference when the freedoms of access and expression are at risk.

Personal membership levels

$10 Student | $35 New Professional/Trial | $50 Member | $100 Sponsor | $250 Supporter (check the FTRF website for additional levels and information)