Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fake News

A quick Google search about a recent Stanford study gives you the following:

Can You Tell Fake News From Real? Study Finds Students Have ...www.npr.org/.../study-finds-students-have-dismaying-inability-to-tell-fake-news-from...Nov 23, 2016 - Students Have 'Dismaying' Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds. Facebook ... If the children are the future, the future might be very ill-informed. ... Most middle school students can't tell native ads from articles.
Column: Most teens can't tell fake from real news | PBS NewsHourwww.pbs.org/newshour/updates/column-students-cant-google-way-truth/25 mins ago - The pizzeria vowed on Monday to stay open despite a shooting incident sparked by a fake news report that it was fronting a child sex ring run ...Why We Shouldn't Be Surprised Kids Can't Tell Fake News From Real ...https://www.good.is/articles/no-surprise-kids-fake-news-real-newsNov 30, 2016 - “It's a question of how do you decide what's good enough evidence to support a conclusion,” says Abraham P. Schwab, associate professor of ...Most Students Don't Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds ...www.wsj.com/.../most-students-dont-know-when-news-is-fake-stanford-study-finds-147...Nov 21, 2016 - Does children's digital fluency allow them to distinguish between fake news and real news online? WSJ's Sue Shellenbarger has the surprising ...
Thanks Google...

The study tells us that, “when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels,” today’s “digital natives,” despite being immersed in these environments, “are easily duped” . In fairness to the digital natives, digital immigrants are equally fooled. 

Donald Trump's recent election reminds us that many older Americans were convinced Obama wanted to take away their guns, that he wanted to impose "death panels" to kill grandma, and that he wasn't born in the USA. In my personal opinion, sites like Facebook skirted their responsibility ny not removing fake news from their news feeds. There a plenty of people who really believed this nonsense.

This article shows us that in the final  months of the  campaign fake news sites received more hits than the top stories from traditional sources like the New York Times and the Washington Post!

(an aside, I've long been a proponent of "net neutrality". I wonder if I've been wrong.) 

All of this screams for the teaching of digital literacy! Look right now, it is easy to blame the right with its Fox News, etc.. But there could come a day when the left could indeed do the same thing. I don't know the ins and outs of Venezuela, but I know that Hugo Chavez manipulated the media (he was a radio host) to seize power and fundamentally ruin his country. 

The days of Walter Cronkite (who?) telling us what is news, what is real, and what should worry us are so long ago in the past. But our democracy and all democracies require an informed public. We can and should disagree about what to do about problems. However, we shouldn't be entitled to our own facts. 

So, do we teach kids how to think critically about their media consumption? How should people know what is legitimate news and websites? We need to foster meta-cognitive skills and thinking. We need to create aware and awake people who don't let themselves get duped. We can't just keep doing what we're doing. Our democracy and way of life depends on it. 

This recent article says it better than I can.

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