Fake news

Over the last three years, a new phrase has entered the common lexicon: fake news. In 2017, it was even the “word of the year”.

Despite awareness of the problem, last year the National Literacy Trust found that only 2% of students in the UK have the necessary skills to spot fake news.

The Day is a great place to start. Each news story is thoroughly researched, and includes a simple Q&A which separates what we know (fact) from we don’t know (speculation and opinion).

Other tips for spotting fake news include:

1. Have you heard of the website that has published the story? If not, check its “about page”.

2. Find out whether other outlets are reporting the same thing.

3. Check the story’s date and image. Was it published a long time ago? Does it use a stock image, or a photograph from a different story? (To find out, right click and “search Google for this image”.)

4. Does the story use emotional language or opinion, rather than facts?

5. Are there supporting quotes? If you search the names of the experts quoted, what do you find?

6 Do not mistake popularity for credibility — just because the article was shared online does not make it true.

Read more about fake news in this special report.

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Assembly

Can you spot the problem with these headlines? This short animated video gives a useful guide to reading between the lines of news stories. Discuss the dangers of fake news. What are the potential effects of some of these false or misleading science stories?

Activities

  1. Play two truths and a lie with your partner. Can you tell when they are telling the truth and when they are lying? What was difficult about the game.
  2. Have you ever been caught out by a fake news story? In groups, discuss what happened and explain what you learnt from the experience.
  3. Make a poster for primary school students explaining fake news, its problems, and how they can spot it.