There are so many choices for sources of news for learners to find out about what’s going on the world today, whether printed media, online news sites or social media. But how can learners be helped to be able to work out if what they are reading has any substance in fact, how accurate the information is, or what the biases are likely to be?
Is what you read in the style of what might be considered traditional journalism where different views are balanced against each other, he said this, she said that, with linked references and explanations? Or is it one-sided propaganda littered with emotive inflammatory language twisting quotes out of their original context and little reference to sources?
How can you spot fake news?
How to Spot Fake News – the IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions), with thanks to www.factcheck.org, created an infographic detailing steps we can all take when trying to work out if what we are reading, hearing or watching is verifiable. This helps teach the skills of critical thinking and media literacy. This describes with visual representation 8 steps to take to help determine the likely authenticity of shared information: to consider the source, to read beyond the headline, the check credibility of the author, to look at linking sources, to check the date to see if current, to research to see if it’s satire, to consider your own biases and the likely ones of the source sharing the information, and to consult fact-checking sites. The infographic is available to download as either an image or in pdf format for printing.
Digital Literacy and “Fake News” – Resources to Help you help your students – many links collated by librarian-turned-technology-specialist Nancy Watson @nancywtech which help teachers guide their learners through ways to spot fake news and techniques to work out the authenticity of the shared information. The links include sites aimed at different age groups, teachers, younger learners, as well as for general public use. They include fact-checking sites as well as tips and advice to determining reliability of what is shared.
Digital Literacy and the “Fake News” Epidemic – Nancy Watson has produced a superb resource for educators sharing a host of advice, tips and resources to support teachers support their learners to better be able to be discerning about the information shared online or in the print media. This includes examples of fake news and outlines the steps anyone can take to determine it to be factually inaccurate.
Fake or real? How to self-check the news and get the facts – a post by digital news intern Wynne Davis describing the issue of fake news and giving practical advice for all ages about how to help determine whether what you are reading is true or fiction. Tips include checking the domain name (especially similar-sounding names), looking at quotations in the story (and checking up on who they are and anything known about them online), searching the quote itself to see if it properly attributed or taken out of context, check the comments to get a flavour of whether others call out the facts as being untrue and cite sources to back up their claims, reverse image search (right click on an image online and choose to search Google for it to see where else it is used and the context in which it is used).
The student’s guide to media messages – we are surrounded by media in many different forms, all vying for our attention and using various methods to persuade us of something (to purchase, to support, to oppose or more). Frank W Baker on the ISTE site shared 9 Lessons to boost media literacy which included a helpful infographic poster of key strategies and steps everyone can apply to what they read or view, whether in books, blogs, online video-sharing sites, television, social media posts or magazine. The 9 lessons offer suggestions for teachers to tackle the subject in different ways. The infographic poster (based on ideas in Frank Baker’s referenced book) combine to encourage learners to ask themselves if they can identify the author, when something was created, whether there are references or sources quoted which can be verified, the reliability of the web address and the literacy level of the actual texts used. And always to consider who created it, what the purpose might be, who was the intended audience, what persuasive techniques have been employed, what was missed out, who might benefit from the message and if it feeds reinforcing stereotypes.
Identifying Fake News: An Infographic and Educator Resources – a blogpost by Michele Kirschenbaum on the EasyBib site which includes a visual representation of steps to take in order to try to work out whether information can be trusted. As well as the steps outlined the blogpost also includes links to additional resources to support teachers in a classroom attempting to guide learners in putting the skills into practice
Internet Archive and Wayback Machine
Wouldn’t it be great if, when someone says content has changed on a website, or disappeared completely, that there was a way to look back at what was there beforehand? Well, The Internet Archive saves a huge amount of online content from many sources around the web (several hundred billion webpages!). This relies on the Wayback Machine (which is part of the Internet Archive) trawling on a regular basis for changed content. So if you search for a website and it is no longer available you can pop the weblink into the Wayback Machine (which is part of The Internet Archive) and look back at previous versions just by choosing a specific date. It will only be available for dates on which a trawl was made so is not available for every date but it’s still very impressive to be able to look at a website change over time and to be able to compare and contrast with versions over time.
Can you save a web page on Wayback machine so it’s always there for future reference? Yes you can! You can simply capture a web page as it appears now for future use as a trusted citation in the future, or just to ensure it does not disappear when the original website changes or disappears. All you do is paste the weblink when you first find it on the “Save Page Now” part of the Internet Archive site.
There are a number of sites which can be used to verify whether stories (particularly those which appear on social media and spread like wildfire) have any basis in fact or whether they are urban myths, or out and out lies or propaganda. These include Politifact, Snopes (often recommended to take the text of these frequently shared stories on social media and paste it into the search box – invariably you’ll find they are urban myths or conflating unrelated two facts to make spurious stories encouraging readers to share with everyone they know!), and Factcheck.org
Do you think you read with your bias? What bias does the writer have?
Biases which affect us all – an infographic created by Business Insider which lists and describes 20 biases which we can all have when we read, hear or share information. Whether it’s a tendency to have a reliance on the first piece of information we hear, whether we are influenced by hearing the same information shared by a group, whether the information confirms what we already believed, stereotyping, or information which implies cause and effect, or many more – this infographic provides a useful starting point for discussing with learners the range of influences on us all when we all read or hear information.