The 5 Best Questions for Detecting Fake News in a Media-Driven World

by | Dec 27, 2017

Detecting fake news is hard, and it’s about to get a whole lot harder.

In today’s digital world, fake news is reported about as frequently as legitimate news is. As online information continues to expand at astonishing rates, the challenge becomes clear. More than ever, solid media literacy skills are a must for everyone, This especially applies to our young learners.

According to Common Sense Media, practically anyone can generate a fake news story. Mostly it’s done to generate revenue from ads, but all the same it’s very easy to do. As advancements in audio-video technology progress, detecting fake news will be even more difficult as time goes on. The realism we can produce with digital media applications is altogether breathtaking and unsettling, depending on how you look at it. Either way, media literacy is no longer an option for any of us.


This is the focus of the article The Future of Fake News by Erin Wilkey Oh. Erin suggests there are 5 specific questions anyone can ask for detecting fake news in a virtual domain that’s becoming more lifelike by the moment. From the article:

“While we have strategies for identifying fake images, a new wave of audio and video manipulation tools have the potential to twist reality even further. For educators and those of us thinking about how to ensure that students have the skills they need to be informed citizens, these new technologies are an urgent reminder of the importance of news and media literacy education.”

The following 5 questions Erin offers in her article can be used in STEM and PBL settings for creating valuable lessons for kids around detecting fake news. Make it part of a well-rounded global digital citizenship program for any grade of learner. You can learn even more about how to do this in our bestselling book Growing Global Digital Citizens.


5 Media Literacy Questions for Detecting Fake News

  1. Who created this message? Learners come to recognize that all media is constructed by someone with a certain vision, background, and agenda.
  2. Why is this message being sent and why was it made? Is the purpose of the message to inform, entertain, persuade, or a combination of these?
  3. Where is this message being distributed? Where did the video appear and who originally posted it? Is it also showing up on trustworthy news websites?
  4. Which techniques are used to attract my attention? This is where the skills of Media Fluency can be a big help. In detecting fake news, we must scrutinize both the medium and the message equally.
  5. Which lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented or missing? “All messages have embedded values and points of view,” Erin advises, “and oftentimes certain perspectives and voices are missing—a gap that’s important to consider.”

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