By Melissa Morrone / Waging Nonviolence
A woman was trying to apply for a job at a major retailer. She had to fill out an online form that prompted her to create a username and password, and then enter personal information down to the last four digits of her Social Security number.
“How do you know if it’s real?” she asked me, already agitated because her computer session was about to time out. The last time she tried to do something like this, she ended up on some sort of scam website.
As a librarian, I talk with people all the time who are uncertain about who and what to trust online. Teaching information literacy, whether in a classroom or one-on-one, is a big part of what we do, and knowing how to use the Internet safely is an ever more important skill given the extent to which online platforms are part of our lives. But public library staff, overworked and under-funded, often aren’t equipped to assist their communities with tasks such as learning to use encryption and anti-tracking tools. We have a critical function in technology education, and there’s so much more we could be doing.