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Want to Discuss Misinformation With Your Kids? Here are Some Examples

Have you been meaning to talk to your kids about misinformation, but don’t know exactly where to start? In an article on MiddleWeb (intended for middle school teachers), educational consultant Frank Baker shares several examples of so-called fake news, strategies to identify and understand it, and media literacy tips for dissecting advertisements. These are a great place to start to help your kids think more critically about media messages and the entities that create them.

 

 

Americans Value Digital Literacy – But Are Bad At It

According to an article in Forbes, MindEdge Learning's State of Critical Thinking study found that while most Americans believe critical thinking is essential in assessing the truthfulness of online information, very few – including college educated Americans - can identify suspicious material when they encounter it on the web. Identifying misinformation includes paying attention to such details as spelling or grammatical errors, the presence or absence of photo credits, indications that the content is being promoted or contains suspicious web addresses, and other obvious indicators.

The study, now in its third year, recorded a decrease of 17 percentage points since 2017 in the proportion of respondents who achieved an "A" grade on the organization's digital literacy test. Three quarters of millennial respondents received an "F" grade, failing to get more than five questions right. Interestingly, older respondents (60 and older) scored better than Millennials, who are generally considered more web-savvy.

Influencers: Time to Be Realistic About Body Image on Social Media

Social media is skewing the way children view life, according to Damian Hinds, United Kingdom Secretary of State for Education, in an article in the Metro (UK). Hinds makes this statement following the Mental Health Foundation’s finding that 40 percent of teenagers reported being worried about their body image due to comments by friends. He is calling on influencers and others to help support body positivity, in part by being more transparent about how photos they post online are edited.

Google Adding a Media Literacy Component

TechCrunch reports Google is adding a media-literacy component to its digital citizenship and safety curriculum for children, called "Be Internet Awesome." The updated program will include six activities designed to help young Internet users identify fake URLs, interpret clickbait headlines and evaluate sources. Not a bad thing for parents to brush up on either!

A New Alliance of Media Giants to Fight Misinformation and Hate Speech

A new coalition, Global Alliance for Responsible Media, has been formed to address brand safety issues and combat online hate speech and fake content. The coalition includes numerous industry heavyweights and social media standouts such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Unilever, General Mills, Procter & Gamble and Adidas, plus various marketing agencies and other industry associations. “When industry challenges spill into society, creating division and putting our children at risk, it’s on all of us to act,” writes Luis Di Como, EVP of global media at the giant consumer brands company Unilever, in an article on the Reuters site. “Founding this alliance is a great step toward rebuilding trust in our industry and society.”

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."

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