This afternoon I watched a really interesting Webinar on Digital Forensics (via Common Sense Media and EdWeb). The speaker, from the News Literacy Project, was @PeterD_Adams . He had some great insights and I recommend watching his presentation (free from the above websites). But in case you want the crib notes, here is my Very Important takeaway.
Peters highly discourages having students create Fake news or Fake Tweets (all easy to do on many many websites or via apps these days). I wasn’t sure I liked this idea (having created a few myself for teaching purposes.) Yet, the more he talked, the more I agreed. In most classes or courses, we don’t ask students to do something incorrectly in order to learn the right way. (“Please incorrectly solve this equation” or “Please use poor grammar in this essay”). Rather we accept accidental errors as opportunities to learn but we don’t assign improper tasks.
Peter recommends that we treat the multitude of websites and apps that can create Fakes like pollution – something you notice in order to plan to avoid it in the future. It makes sense. EVERYTHING on the Web is there FOREVER. So no matter how you try, you can’t really purge your Fake creation – even if it was created just for sake of a class or as an example. In some instances, purging a Fake might give you no forum to explain that it was a Fake (think Twitter). This is especially egregious if your Fake went viral.
No, there are (alas) MANY good opportunities to decry Fakes without us making our own. Peter recommends not just NewsLit.org but also Checkology, Snopes.com, factcheck,org, Politifact. All have great examples that can be used while at the same time promoting beneficial, digital citizenship positive sites. This has the added benefit of denying the Fake Creation websites clicks, which in turn denies them revenue. Because, as Peter pointed out, that is ALL Fakes are – a way to drive revenue (see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38168281 or read Peters analysis at https://newslit.org/get-smart/rumor-review-denzel-washington-supports-trump-false/).