3 Things Learners Can Observe to Help Them Detect Fake News

by | Jun 12, 2017

The 5Is of Information Fluency have a million and one uses when it comes to wading safely and productively through the growing sea of knowledge on the Internet. One of the most valuable uses it has—one that is in short supply at the moment—comes in providing us with the ability to detect fake news.

We refer back to a well-known study published recently by the Stanford History Education Group, which revealed that over 80% of students were unable to detect fake news on the Web. Both under-resourced poorer schools and wealthier ones with access to better resources also had nearly the same results.

That’s why we appreciate Amanda Green’s Edudemic article How to Protect Students From Fake News so much. She wants teachers, parents, and learners everywhere to be dutifully aware of why fake news is so harmful. From her article:

“The danger of fake news lies in its ability to appear like any other news story … the intent behind publishing fake news is to deliberately mislead readers into believing one set of ‘facts’ over another. Creators of fake news carefully craft attention-grabbing headlines that appeal to a certain group of people … to get the most clicks and ad revenue possible. The majority of information found within these fake news stories is misleading, if not demonstrably false, which can lead to confusion and conflict in the general population.”

Green cites an interesting 2015 study which discovered the majority of Millennials aged 18-34 use Facebook as their primary source of news and information. “Unfortunately, Facebook is not known as a credible source for news,” Green advises in her article. “The recent outbreak of fake news has hit social media sites particularly hard, as these types of platforms are set up to propagate information at record speed regardless of source or content.”

More than ever, it is the responsibility of the Global Digital Citizen to keep themselves informed and enlightened about the truth of what is happening daily in our local and global communities. Part of the tenet of being responsible for oneself and others online is the perceptive ability to detect fake news.

And here’s some news you can count on—doing so is easier than you might think.


3 Ways to Detect Fake News

The first step in being able to detect fake news is acceptance. It’s a sad fact of life that there is simply a lot of unreliable and untrustworthy news being shared online and for various reasons. At best it can be a minor annoyance, and at the worst it can distort our perception of what is truth and what isn’t, gradually affecting every aspect of our lives. Once we realize this potentiality, we understand the need for developing the know-how to safely and effectively circumvent fake news stories when we see them, in order to keep ourselves properly informed.

In her article, Amanda encourages us to look carefully at three distinct aspects of any website to help detect fake news:

  • The Source: Who is the publisher? Do they publish other information largely recognized as accurate and unbiased? Is the author properly attributed? Are there credible references? Is the domain name or website address similar to that from another more well-recognized website (http://www.abc.com vs http://www.abc.co)?
  • The Site’s Appearance: Is the headline in CAPS? Is the grammar and sentence structure poor? Is there too much punctuation? Is there a copyright or disclaimer? Does the site appear very basic (minimal color / design) and poorly organized? Are there too many ads?
  • The Content: Is it beyond belief? Is it too funny, too sad, too scary, too uplifting? Are there details in the text that just don’t make sense? Is the tone sensational? Is it just trying to sell you something or get you to click on something? Is it promising you something no one else can give you? When was it published and/or updated? Is it an old story that just looks new?

Read the full article How to Protect Students From Fake News on Edudemic for more useful information and insights from Amanda Green on how to detect fake news.



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