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A guide to spotting fake news

A guide to spotting fake news

8th September 2020

In a time where the world is fighting to overcome COVID-19 and where many more social issues are coming to light, another pandemic is hitting us stronger than ever – the rising popularity of fake news and misleading information. Therefore, spotting fake news is a skill that must be obtained by everyone.

According to Virgin Media, the lockdown in the UK doubled internet usage and it comes as no surprise social media has been a useful platform for young people to communicate and socialise with their peers. However, in today’s age, it’s become a space for much more than that. As reported by the British Educational Suppliers Association and Ofcom, 60% of children between the age of 12-15 are interested in the news and 60% of young people overall see the online space as a key source of information, and often social media can be a space for this.

What’s real and what’s not?

New stories can go viral in a matter of minutes, that’s why it’s important for students to know what’s real and what’s fake news. Children are the most susceptible to fake information sources and they can be easily manipulated and therefore, hurt. It is vital that teachers understand the dangers of fake news and advocate for stronger media and information literacy among students.

According to the National Literacy Trust, only 2% of children have the media and information literacy skills needed for spotting fake news and more than 50% of teachers believe that the national curriculum does not provide children with these skills.

Recently, both Twitter and Facebook have been focusing on spotting fake news sources and removing any misleading information circulating their platforms. Nevertheless, their effort is not enough and there is a vital need for educational establishments to dedicate more time and effort in teaching students how to choose credible sources and help mitigate the problem.

Spotting fake news – teach your students

  • Check the source – you can do that by looking at the ‘About us’ or ‘Contact’ pages of websites. Every credible source will have at least one of the two.
  • Do not trust the headline – always read further than the headline as sometimes it can be only used for clickbait.
  • Look out for spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • Look for supporting resources. Trustworthy sources often list additional reading materials or references.
  • Check the date – old articles might not be relevant today.
  • Does the story use emotional language? This can be used to persuade the reader in believing the story.
  • Are you biased? Be careful not to take a story seriously just because it corresponds with your beliefs.
  • If you are reading a post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform, check the comments, these often highlight if the article is fake news.
  • Memes and posts can be checked by using a reverse image search. You can do this here.
  • There are some useful websites that show misleading information and fake news: https://www.snopes.com/, https://www.factcheck.org/

These basic skills, alongside best practice of how to navigate and behave online, can help teach your students how to be better digital citizens.

Impero prides itself on protecting students online and does this through monitoring and detecting at-risk students with intelligent keyword detection functionality. Staff are equipped with full definitions to confidently open conversations around captures, offer counternarratives and teach students about how to behave online. Learn more about Impero Education Pro and book a demo below:

For more information on spotting fake news, follow the links below:

https://www.factcheck.org/2016/11/how-to-spot-fake-news/

https://www.ifla.org/publications/node/11174

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