“Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again,” William Cullen Bryant exclaimed in his Civil War-era poem, “The Battlefield.” Nearly two centuries later, it feels like truth is yet again fighting an uphill battle.
We live at a time when the Oxford Dictionary chooses post-truth as its word of the year. Misleading news stories litter our social-media feeds, and we struggle to distinguish credible sources from bogus ones. This swirl of misinformation fuels distrust of accurate news and enhances our own biases.
If truth truly is to rise again, we need to equip our students (and ourselves) with media-literacy strategies for separating fact from fiction, real news from fake news. We also need to encourage students to speak up when they encounter shady stories to prevent their spread.
The strategies in this post can help our students spot and stop fake news.
Detecting Red Flags
“Fake news” refers to intentionally false, misleading, or salacious stories masquerading as real news. Students are most likely to encounter fake news on social media, where misinformation can be shared widely and rapidly. In fact, in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, fake news stories received more engagement on Facebook than the top stories from mainstream news outlets.