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 make 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.
For years to come there will be no better case study to illustrate the damage that unsubstantiated 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.
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.
Fake is a generic term. It means one thing to one person and another thing to someone else. Anyone can say that something is fake or made up.
More descriptive words make it more difficult to label information that is untrue, and easier to challenge. We — kids, adults, parents, and teachers — need all the help we can get in this 21st Century connected world when it comes to evaluating credibility
Verified or validated news
Teaching our children and all citizens to check for credibility, evaluate, and celebrate substantiated news has become more urgent In today’s hyper-connected world. Read my more detailed post on this topic.
Fake is a generic term. We don’t use it much when we teach — in any subject — because it’s judgmental and doesn’t tell us much about whatever it’s supposed to be characterizing. Besides, anyone can say that something — anything — is fake or made up.
A media company in Sweden, MetroSverige, shared this excellent video visualization that depicts the differences between checking on the validity of a piece of news and just sharing it without pausing to consider whether it or not it is fake news.
If you think a lot about fake news these days, and if you aim to help your students or family members develop the ability to effectively evaluate and decide what’s real and what’s not, National Public Radio (NPR) just published an excellent article, Fake or Real? How to Self-Check the News and Get the Facts. This piece highlights six steps that individuals can use to judge the stories they encounter, and the article includes a detailed description about how to go about following through with each step.
The entire NPR post, which is chock full of helpful information, will be a useful teaching tool for anyone who wants to gauge a news item’s authenticity, and the six basic steps are easy to master. Post the list near computers, on the refrigerator, and in rooms where family members use digital devices and on digital devices’ note pads.