Two Senators Make Up a Group & Buy a Facebook Ad

Even as social media companies explained in Congressional hearings how they are developing ways to identify fraudulent and spurious political advertisements, two United States Senators conducted an experiment, creating a group, developing an ad, paying Facebook $20 each, and targeting groups of people who they hoped would view it. The two senators, Mark Warner of Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota wondered whether they could get people to notice their advertisement, and lots did. The ad also included a disclaimer.

They explain what they did in the video below, which appeared on ABC.

 

In the comments section some individuals spent time bashing the two senators, noting they made up something that wasn’t true. What did not have much to do with their jobs as senators, some commenters wondered?

However, the two senators clearly aimed to made a point about the relative ease of creating and uploading fraudulent political content, and they demonstrated that the current steps that social media companies are taking to identify false political ads is still not enough.

Two Pithy Quotes on Social Media & Democracy

How can worldwide social media companies ensure that their digital tools are not used to promote chaos?

Social media and the digital tools that we use every day have transported us into a strange new era. As we use these tools to work and play we tacitly  allow them to collect incredible amounts of our personal information — content that documents our lives, likes, loves, and dislikes —  and we become sitting ducks for sham news and fraudulent information. Those who possess our information, good guys or bad, can use impersonal algorithms to assess and use our data.  Read my post about using Duck, Duck Go.

Fast Company’ article, Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt On Fake News, Russia, And Information Warfare describes how Google and social media companies were caught off guard by the manipulation of their systems and the prevalence of divisive news. The October 29, 2017, article by Austin Carr contains two interesting comments by titans of digital industry, though neither of them testified at the Capitol Hill hearings.    Continue reading

How Are You Helping Kids Learn About MediaLit & Fake News? Progress?

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Check out Google’s new fact check feature.

Teachers all over the country are sharing ideas about how to help their students identify news that is made-up, unsubstantiated, or just plain false. Now Google has added a feature that identifies false information that comes up on user searches. An April 7, 2017 article at the Pointer Journalism site describes Google’s new fact check in detail and explains how the company went about developing its new feature. You can also read the CNET article about Google.

I’ve been delighted by the articles, such as Five Ways Teachers Are Fighting Fake News, an NPR education article that describe how three teachers are incorporating media literacy activities into their curriculum.  Plenty of other similar reports have appeared in various the media. I hope that, somewhere, there is an organization that is archiving as many teacher ideas as possible.                          Continue reading

Teaching Civility to Kids? Excellent Resource @ WikiHow

Civil behavior is a fundamental building block of our democracy, and throughout our history both children and adults have strived — and occasionally struggled — to demonstrate it through their behavior. In our 21st Century connected world, civility has become even more difficult for many people to understand and attain because certain aspects of digital life can thwart many individual’s good intentions.

unnamedIf you are seeking useful information about civility to share in your school or community, check out How to Teach Civility to Kids, over at wikiHow. The article is, in essence, a tutorial, explaining what adults should do to encourage young people to grow into civil and kind individuals, and it offer specific ideas for conversations and activities.

Parents and teachers spend an enormous amount of their time and energy focusing with children on why it’s important to become civil individuals and  emphasizing that these principles are the same either online or off. Yet educators and adults need continuing support and guidance as they go about the work of promoting and upholding civility. Their challenges are encouraging kids to learn how to be respectful and how to disagree respectfully and  demonstrating to children the importance of being polite, even when they don’t feel like it. Encouraging children to assist others and be kind anytime ensures that children understand much more about what it means to be civil. The wikiHow article offers information and help. Continue reading