Poor News Literacy Skills Combined With Fake News Can Hurt Real People

america-1238742_960_720

via Pixabay

For years to come there will be no better case study to illustrate the damage that fake news, internet trolls, and social media can create than ‘Pizzagate’. The shameful, made-up information and the events that followed will comprise an authoritative discussion piece for parents, and it should enter every middle and high school media/news literacy curriculum.

In the April 20, 2017 Washington Post, Comet Pizza owner James Alefantis writes about how fake news concerning his restaurant went viral. His article What Happened When ‘PizzaGate’ Came to My Restaurant describes what happened when his business, neighbors, and customers suffered because of harassment, frightening phone calls, menacing comments to workers and their families, intimidation toward nearby businesses, and even death threats.  Yet Alefantis also describes how his strong community — neighbors and other businesses — rallied in support.
Continue reading

Teaching Children (and Adults) to Extricate Themselves from Offensive Situations

Expressing hate is so easy with just a few taps on the keyboard.

Expressing hate is so easy with just a few comments or  taps on the keyboard. Develop strategies to contain it.

Can a person learn how to respond to an offensive or hateful situation? Can adults help 21st Century young people master the skills? Earlier this fall I wrote a post, Is Hate Speech Here to Stay?, wondering if up-front, in-your-face hate and offensive speech will be a continuing problems in our connected world.

Recently a New York Times article, Lessons in the Delicate Art of Confronting Offensive Speech, described the challenges and awkwardness that individuals experience when they happen to hear or see a person engaging in offensive activity. The piece highlighted research about what occurs when people challenge offensive speech, and it suggests concrete steps that a person can take when confronted by offensive behavior or speech.. The authors, Benedict Carey and Jan Hoffman, point out that researchers have consistently found that a person who  makes the awful comments will often curb behavior when another expresses reservations or reacts in a more indirect way.

Continue reading