How to spot fake news?
Zoom in on Media Matters Part 2 — Fake News
Topic: the phenomenon of fake news, the underlying reasons, how we can become better at spotting fake information
Main idea: Fake news is becoming more and more rampant in our society today. We need to raise our awareness to be able to spot fake information and to understand the underlying reasons. We also need to learn what we can do to stop the spread of fake news.
Exercise 1 — Brainstorming
Time: 10-12 min
List as many words as you can that come into your mind when you hear the term fake news.
Instructions for teachers: Have your students collect as many words as they can on their own. Then everybody should throw in what he/she has collected.
Possible answers: hoax, scam, prank, disinformation, misleading, manipulation, go viral, biased content, pseudoscientific, conspiracy theory, false, clickbait, fake images, sensationalism, loaded language, bots, generate, algorithm, falsify, distort, sloppy
Exercise 2 Quiz —Test your ability with the following quiz
Time: 20-25 min
Instructions for teachers: A fun way for students to get engaged in the topic is by checking whether they can distinguish between fake and real. The term fake news covers different types of news material. You will find a more detailed list at the end of the teacher’s manual.
More and more texts and images will be manipulated these days. When an image is used as an illustration for an article, it can happen that the image has been falsified, or it shows something different than what the text claims. It can also be the case that neither the text, nor the picture is authentic. In the quiz students encounter various types of fake media content and they need to come up with an explanation as to why they believe something is suspicious, what seems to be real and what seems to be fake in that particular text or image. The correct answers have been given together with an explanation. When they get to slide 11, they are asked to identify various types of fake news. The right answers and explanations have been given and after they have read the explanation, the categories will hopefully make sense to them. However, when identifying the categories, they might give different responses. If their explanation is convincing, you can accept their answer even if it’s not the right category based on the official responses. The argument has to be well supported, though.
Exercise 3 — Discussion and video
Time: 12-15 min
Instructions for teachers: Before watching the video have your students come up with a few tips as to how they can spot fake news/information and what people are supposed to do in order to stop its spread.
After watching the video, they can compare their answers with the tips given by the speaker.
Exercise 4 & 5 — Vocabulary builder
Time: 25 min
Instructions for teachers:
Have your students take a look at the cloze test and then watch the video together again before they fill in the gaps. To be able to do the first exercise it’s enough for them to watch the first half of the video, so it’s up to you if you want to watch the rest of it as well. When you check their answers, ask them to give simple definitions or synonyms of the words they have filled the gaps with. Then have your students do the vocabulary quiz.
Exercise 6 — Group discussion
Time: 15-20 min
Why is fake news so rampant in our society today? What can be some of the reasons?
There are several types of fake news in our society these days. Fake news is a collective term applied for various misleading and deceiving contents created for a number of reasons.
Some of the main types are:
- biased content
- false information/disinformation
- pseudoscientific news/articles
- conspiracy theories
Some of the main motives are:
- to raise one’s revenues—the goal is to make people click on the articles or watch the channel, so they publish/show sensational news the authenticity of which is questionable; for the same reason they give clickbait titles, which distort or fake the content of the article. If more people read the paper/magazine or more people watch the channel, advertisers will pay more (and so they manage to raise their revenues).
- companies disguise their commercials, biased materials as news or authentic information
- to influence people —to make political gain, to acquire supporters or voters
- to build on people’s desires or fears
- to give simple, attractive answers to complex questions
- to relativize accepted facts
- not necessarily intentional—unfounded information hasn’t been checked by the one sharing it
- to promote a certain issue which benefits an interest group by means of the principle the end justifies the means and thus by intentionally spreading false information
- the goal can be to raise people’s attention to fake news by using humour as a means
- a prank that was meant to reach only a small group goes viral
Instructions for teachers:
This activity can take up to 15-20 minutes since the two questions are quite broad and may lead to a heated debate. The various types of fake news and the motives behind them do not appear in the video, so it is up to the teacher when the discussion takes place. We suggest you leave it to the end of this double class since by then students will have acquired some new vocabulary pertaining to the topic and will feel more confident to discuss these matters.
*Content from https://buvosvolgy.hu/alhirek/ and https://www.urbanlegends.hu/ has been used for the teacher’s manual.