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article imageEncouraging students to spot fake news

By Tim Sandle     Mar 15, 2018 in Lifestyle
London - With the high number of false news stories populating social media, and the decrying of 'experts' by certain politicians, it's even more important that younger people can critically assess articles. A new project seeks to help students with this process.
This takes the form of a new game from the BBC. The BBC game challenges young people to spot "fake news" article from genuine journalistic output. The interactive BBC iReporter game is aimed at young people aged 11 to 18, with the aim of giving them the opportunity to take on the role of a journalist in the BBC newsroom.
The game was developed by Aardman Animations, and it is a form of "choose your own adventure" game. The game challenges the player to make their own decisions on which news sources, political claims, social media comments and pictures should be trusted, and which should be rejected as 'false' or inaccurate. This is as the user contributes, in a simulated fashion, to the BBC 's daily news output. Here the student needs to think critically: "Which news should be published, which stories should be checked and which rumors should be discarded?"
Being backed by the BBC, which is one of the most respected news organizations in the world, the game seeks to both educate and to entertain. This forms part of a wider BBC project to help young people identify false news stories by providing students and teachers with a set of resources to use in classrooms across the U.K.
In relation to this, James Harding, who is director of BBC News and Current Affairs, said: "Never has it been so important for young people to develop their critical thinking, to be news literate and have the skills to filter out fakery from the truth, especially on their busy social media feeds."
The BBC itself has set up a website called 'Reality Check', which is designed to assess many news stories to determine if the propositions made in many articles are indeed correct. Given the highly charged political situation in the U.K. at present, much of this is devoted to the statistics and economic indicators around Brexit. In addition, the BBC has collaborated with the Centre for Argument Technology at the University of Dundee to devise the "Evidence Toolkit", which is a program aimed at 16-to-18-year-olds. This scheme uses complex algorithms to help students wheedle out fake news.
In related news, a review of social media metrics relating to Twitter has shown how false news is more likely to be shared, and consequently reach a wider pool of people, than fact based journalism. See the Digital Journal report into the academic study that supports this: "Fake news travels faster than real news".
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