“It’s time to move past fake news,” suggests an August 30, 2019 editorial in the Toronto Star, which explains the need to amend or change the terminology, instead labeling made-up information as disinformation. The article points out that, while there has always been made up or exaggerated information, our contemporary digital world provides easy and efficient ways to spread disinformation.
Fake news is a misnomer. There is no “news” in it. And the term has become mere shorthand to dismiss anything with which the user of the phrase disagrees.
Quoting scholars including Kathleen Hall Jamieson, at the University of Pennsylvania, and David Runciman at Cambridge University, the Toronto Star editorial writers note that the digital revolution allows people to target various groups with disinformation. Moreover, the digital precision and speed of social media make it easier to challenge the cultural norms of democracy. Sometimes these challenges are designed to make people understand even less about democratic institutions.
The editorial proposes a set of steps that can help individuals identify content that is intentionally misleading — six actions that people can take to rationally figure out where the information came from and who shared it. Yet, according to Joseph Heath, a professor at the University of Toronto, this type of rational and critical thinking is not always easy.
Blog readers may be interested in checking out Apathy is Boring, also mentioned in the editorial. Apathy is Boring is a non-partisan organization that aims to help Canadian young people learn and understand more about democracy. It is collaborating with a number of other get-out-the-vote organizations to redouble educational efforts before the October 2019 national election in Canada.
A few past MediaTechParenting blog posts that address misinformation and disinformation:
- What If We Just Stopped Using the Words Fake News? — April 2019
- Video Visually Demonstrates Sharing Fake News vs. Checking It First — December 2016
- 7 Games & Simulations That Can Strengthen Fact-Checking Skills— July 2019
- Triple-Check for Fake News on Social Media — Some Learning Resources – November 2016