A pilot education programme in the US is training kids to spot the difference between fake and real news.
12-year-old students at Clemente Middle School in Germantown, Maryland is one of several schools worldwide which wants to train kids for the reality of living in an online world of fake news. It is not the only one. In the Czech Republic, high schools teach teens to identify propaganda from Russia and in Sweden, students as young as 10, are trained to spot the difference between news and Fox, er fake news.
In Pennsylvania, a state lawmaker wants mandatory media literacy classes in all public schools.
“The sophistication in how this false information is disguised and spread can make it very difficult for someone, particularly young people, to determine fact from fiction,” says Rep. Tim Briggs.
A survey by Common Sense Media said that while kids are good at consuming news they are rubbish when it comes to spotting what is real and what isn’t.
More than 44 percent of tweens and teens said they can tell the difference between fake news stories and real ones. But more than 30 percent admitted they shared a news story online — only to find out later that it was wrong or inaccurate.
The problem is that anyone can publish anything on the web and drilling the kids with a list of questions about a story could be the key.
One course created by the nonprofit, the News Literacy Project that teachers from California to Virginia are adding to their classrooms. It includes a 10-question checklist for identifying fake news.
- Who made this?
- Who is making money off it?
- Who might help or be harmed by this message?
- What is left out of this message that might be important?
- Is this credible (and what makes you think that)?
Other red flags include the lack of a by-line. A headline which is ALL CAPS or has shedloads of exclamation marks.
A story which promising you something “the media” does not want you to know is almost certainly fake.
Teachers say it’s working. Part of the reason: Kids, particularly middle schoolers, are inherently cynical and once they know the rules they are not sucked in.
Google kicked 200 publishers off one of its ad networks in the fourth quarter, partly in response to the proliferation of fake news sites.
The sites were banned from its AdSense network and is part of an update to an existing policy that prohibits sites from misleading users with their content.
Google regularly weeds out advertisers for false or misleading claims, but impersonating news sites became an addition following the rapid rise of fake news, or propaganda sites.
Publishers were banned in November and December and included sites that impersonate real news organisations through shortened top-level domains, according to Google’s 2016 “bad ads” report, normally released at the beginning of each year.
So-called fake news publishers will sometimes take advantage of “.co” domains by appearing like legitimate news sites that would normally end in “.com”.
Google said in 2016 it took down 1.7 billion ads for violations, compared to 780 million in 2015. Google attributes the increase in ad removals to a combination of advertiser behaviour and improvements in technology to detect offending ads.
Facebook said it will update its social media platforms in Germany within weeks to reduce the dissemination of fake news.
German Justice Minister Heiko Mass has repeatedly called on Facebook to respect laws against defamation in Germany that are stricter than those in the United States.
The Germans are worried that fake news and “hate speech” on the internet could influence a parliamentary election in September in which chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in office.
Now a Facebook note said the company would make it easier to report items suspected to be fake news and work with external fact-checking organisations.
“Last month we announced measures to tackle the challenge of fake news on Facebook,” the U.S. technology company’s German-language newsroom said.
“We will put these updates in place in Germany in the coming weeks.”
Its partners will be required to sing the U.S. Poynter International Fact-Checking Code of Principles, it said. Warning signs would be attached to reports identified as noncredible, and the reasons for the decision given.
Facebook would also make it impossible for spammers to forge the websites of reputable news agencies, it said.
The German government is thinking of slapping a huge fine on Facebook for each fake news story it publishes.
For those who came in late, fake news is the latest thing. It is news which is sometimes called “satire” in the US by people who don’t know what satire is. It is normaly conspiracy laden rubbish which no sane person would believe and is tailored to repeat things that people want to believe. It was considered a factor in the election of the Russian-backed Donald (prince of Orange) Trump in the US.
Germany is worried. Particularly as it fears that the Far-Right in its country will use fake news to stir up trouble about immigrants. After all they have a long history of doing just that. According to the article, “Lawmakers in the country are reportedly hoping it will prevent Russia from interfering in Germany’s elections next year.”
The government of Germany is considering imposing a legal regime that would allow fining social networks such as Facebook up to 500,000 euros ($522,000) for each day the platform leaves a ‘fake news’ story up without deleting it.
Germany’s parliamentary chief of the Social Democrat party Thomas Oppermann said in an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine that the law would reportedly apply to other social networks too.
“If after the relevant checks Facebook does not immediately, within 24 hours, delete the offending post then [it] must reckon with severe penalties of up to 500,000 euros.”
Under the law, “official and private complainants” would be able to flag news on Facebook as fake. Facebook and other affected social networks would have to create “in-country offices focused on responding to takedown demands,” the report says. The bill, slated for consideration next year, is said to have bipartisan support.
After the fiasco of the US election which saw a candidate being elected on the basis of Russian supplied fake news, Facebook has decided to clamp down on the phenomena.
The social notworking site said it will implement new measures to combat the so-called fake news and lies spreading via its platform. Facebook was used for circulation by fraudulent “news” sites, whose operators posted false headlines that were shared widely, driving web traffic and generating ad dollars. But they were also fooling unintelligent people who believe in bizarre conspiracies and think the word “libtard” is amusing
Now Facebook has a plan to cut off phony sites masquerading as news sources and to clearly label fake news. In the process, it might help restore programmatic ad revenue to legitimate publishers that have seen marketing dollars siphoned off by bogus sites.
Facebook is deputizing reputable, third-party fact-checking sites to label posts as “disputed,” a warning that will appear prominently in the Facebook feed and pop up when someone tries to share the post. The fact-check organizations include Snopes, FactCheck.org and Politifact, which are part of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Network.
Adam Mosseri’s, Facebook’s VP of product for News Feed said that the fact checking will provide more context can help people decide for themselves what to trust and what to share.
“It will still be possible to share these stories, but you will see a warning that the story has been disputed as you share.”
The process for flagging fake news starts with Facebook’s everyday users, who will be able to report any posts they consider suspicious. Once flagged, independent fact-checkers will determine whether it deserves the “disputed” tag or not.
Facebook also is going after the money that funds the fake news. Facebook said it will shut down links to spam websites, which often use spoof domain names that sound like reputable news sources. When people click on the “spoof” domains they mistakenly go to sites that are covered in ads and fake news.
“We’ve found that a lot of fake news is financially motivated. Spammers make money by masquerading as well-known news organizations, and posting hoaxes that get people to visit to their sites, which are often mostly ads.”
Ad technology has been blamed for helping fake news. During the election BuzzFeed uncovered overseas schemes with people making money by hosting websites filled with outrageous stories and driving traffic to them through Facebook.