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Giving Facts A Chance

Alan Miller of the nonprofit News Literacy Project writes in The Washington Post that determining what information to trust is really important when getting your news from the web. He cites the example of the current measles outbreak, which officials have said was caused largely in part by anti-vaccination messages on social media. Miller writes that his organization teaches students to apply critical thinking to information they encounter online and to consider it carefully before sharing it. Learning how to know what to believe in the digital age is empowering and should be a regular topic of conversation with your children as you help them navigate the world as digital citizens.

Censorship of Free Speech a Political Landmine for Tech Platforms

According to The New York Times, Facebook and other social media platforms are struggling to balance freedom of speech and hate speech, as well as the abundance of fake news that circulate their platforms. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now asking outside parties, including the US government, to help moderate content and filter out what is inaccurate and harmful. Zuckerberg’s comments have opened up a minefield of commentary by those worrying this movement means limiting free speech.

Two Internets?

Should there be a separate Internet for children?  Conor Friedersdorf’s article in The Atlantic reminds parents that the Internet is “a place where the violence is more graphic than any R-rated movie, the sex is more salacious than any strip club, and the bullies get 24-hour access to kids’ bedrooms.” He proposes instead a “youth net” for kids younger than 15, with content similar to a PG movie and where decisions about content moderation are made with children in mind, freedom of speech is not paramount, and everything is delivered on special youth friendly devices. Social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Youtube would all be banned and would be seen as the equivalent of getting a drivers license. What are your thoughts?

Mueller Report: Russians Relied On US Social Media For "Trolling"

Special counsel Robert Mueller's recently released, 400-page report includes details regarding Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA) and its coordinated use of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to reach millions of Americans leading up to and after the 2016 presidential election. IRA-controlled online accounts were used to coordinate rallies, push deceptive memes and posts, and interact with influential conservatives in an effort to impact political conversations and fuel social divisions worldwide. These finding are perhaps the best case made yet for digital literacy classes to include misinformation in their curriculum.

A Lesson on Fake News Goes Too Far

A student at a Texas high school near Houston is being accused of taking an assignment on fake news too far by posting on social media an untrue story about an arrest of a school administrator. The post, which went viral, led school district officials to speak out against the story in a letter to parents. "This is a teachable moment for all of us, and it's a conversation we should all be having," according to the statement. "Families can use this to start the conversation about the power of social media -- and the damage fake news can create."

Social Media Seeks Content Advice from Conservative Groups

Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are seeking input from conservative-leaning groups to determine the types of posts that should be identified as unacceptable and eliminated from their platforms, write Kirsten Grind and John McKinnon in The Wall Street Journal. The move is partly a response to allegations that the social platforms have a liberal bias and indicates an effort on the part of the social media giants to counter that criticism.

Online Forums vs. Social Media – Who Do Americans Trust?

A poll of more than 1,000 Americans, done by community platform Tapatalk , showed that 4 out of 5 people trust online forums for information more than they do social media sites such as Facebook. Only 27% would ask a question on a Facebook group, as opposed to 47% who'd consult Quora or similar sites. The results indicate that consumers are growing frustrated with the inability to find trusted information on mainstream social media, but also raise large questions about where people should be going for vetted information and the spread of misinformation.

Social Media Now More Important as a News Source Than Newspapers

A new Pew Research study has found that after years of steady gains, social media has edged out newspapers as a news source for adults in the US in 2018. The survey reveals that 20% of adults access social media for news, topping the 16% for newspapers, although TV remains the leading source.

Even Digital Publications are in Trouble

It is not just print newspapers in both small towns and big cities that are shutting down. Online teen publications and Millennial magazines are struggling to survive, too. Vice Media, Vox Media, Mic, and more have been beset by “layoffs, sales, and revenue misses.” Why isn’t digital publishing working? To start, many publishers primarily post on other platforms (some even skipped building a site altogether), because it allows their content to scale, but doing so loses the formation of a community base and built up advertising revenue stream. Additionally, by posting on one social media site rather than across platforms, their content is seen as the content of that site, not a distinct and separate publication. This brings up the question, where will content come from in the future, and will anyone be vetting it?

Digital Citizenship Resources for Parents and Teachers

Digital Citizenship Week just passed and eSchool News shared several resources available to help teach such citizenship lessons to kids. The focus of these materials is helping children, educators, and parents understand what digital citizenship means and how to apply it when confronted with issues or situations online.