Title: Marjorie Taylor Greene, disinformation on Ukraine casualties and other news literacy lessons
The material in this post comes from the Sift, the organization’s newsletter for educators, which has more than 23,000 subscribers. Published weekly during the school year, it explores timely examples of misinformation, addresses media and press freedom topics, discusses social media trends and issues, and includes discussion prompts and activities for the classroom. Get Smart About News, modeled on the Sift, is a free weekly newsletter for the public.
The News Literacy Project’s browser-based e-learning platform, Checkology, helps educators teach middle and high school students how to identify credible information, seek out reliable sources and know what to trust, what to dismiss and what to debunk.
It also gives them an appreciation of the importance of the First Amendment and a free press. Checkology, and all of NLP’s resources and programs, are free. Since 2016, more than 37,000 educators in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 120 other countries have registered to use the platform. Since August 2020, more than 3,000 educators and more than 125,000 students have actively used Checkology.
Here’s material from the March 21 edition of the Sift:
1. Discussion about mis- and disinformation online has spiked over the last two years, reflecting a heightened public awareness of the challenges presented by widespread falsehoods. According to data from the social media analysis firm Zignal Labs, mentions of “misinformation” and “disinformation” on Twitter increased 221 percent in 2020 compared with 2019 — largely coinciding with the rise of public conversations about covid-19 and vaccines. Other major events, including the 2020 election and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have sustained the public’s focus on the topic.
Dig deeper: Use this think sheet to have students analyze an article from this week’s Sift from a news literacy perspective.
YES: It is footage from the set of a 2020 rap music video in Moscow.
YES: The clip was posted to TikTok on March 28, 2021, by Vasya Ivanov, who is also credited as the production designer on the video.
NO: Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene didn’t refuse to applaud for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when he spoke to Congress via videoconference on March 16.
NewsLit takeaway: Controversial figures are frequent targets of misleading and false claims that resonate strongly among critics and partisan groups. The more polarizing the person at the center of the rumor is, the more inclined people who oppose them may be to uncritically accept and spread damaging falsehoods. When a misleading visual — especially a video, which may seem conclusive — is involved, it can touch off a wave of viral outrage. Remember: Our rational thinking is easily bypassed when we’re highly emotional. It’s always best to pause before you share or amplify information, and this is especially true when the content provokes a strong emotional response.
- Brazil’s Supreme Court banned the social media app Telegram — which is favored by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro — as part of a nationwide crackdown on hate speech and misinformation.
- As Russia becomes more disconnected from the global Internet, fears of an emerging “splinternet” — where “we have a number of national or regional networks that don’t speak to one another” — are rising.