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Guest post: On being mindful on the information we create

In this guest post, Sarah Pavey talks about her personal experience of disinformation.

Sarah Pavey
Sarah Pavey

Have you ever told a little white lie? Hands up who hasn’t!

Have you ever told a little white lie in order to make yourself look better in the eyes of others? Be honest!

Mostly this has no consequence, however these days that little white lie mentioned to the wrong people or posted on social media can become viral in a short space of time. The by product is that others may be caught in the deceipt and the misinformation can have dire consequences. This happened to me a few years ago and was deeply unpleasant and stressful at the time. Fortunately for me there was a silver lining in that it tipped me into a now flourishing career as an independent consultant and trainer but many others are not so lucky. Had this happened at a different time in my life, for me too my situation would have been far more serious.

My first awareness was when a friend called me asking me what I had been up to!? It involved information being given to the international press and home press (tabloids, FT, serious papers, Private Eye) both in print and online about my library assistant – except she was reported as being “librarian” (which was me). In some papers it was front page news but at least there were also pictures which clarified the situation.

At the time. I was trying to build my own consultancy business one day a week. The misleading headline appeared in a Google search list just above my own website details (no pictures!) Firstly, I naturally tried contacting my Union and CILIP’s legal advice but it soon became apparent this was something I needed to act on myself and as quickly as possible. I had to contact the press in my own time and at my expense to get the information corrected in the online versions of newspapers – I could do nothing about the printed copies. There was no compensation. There was no apology. It was dismissed by all as “semantics”.

The person who made “the mistake” then went on to be my headmaster – I had no choice but to leave.

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