Fake news

In 2017, “fake news” became Collins Dictionary’s word of the year. It has remained in the headlines ever since.

From ancient Rome up to the present day, misleading stories have been used to change people’s views and opinions as well as to make money. Now, with the rise of social media and online platforms, false stories can go viral rapidly.

Although we are aware of fake news, we are bad at spotting it – and we love to share it. In 2018, a group of researchers at MIT found that fake news was more popular than the truth. Made-up or misleading stories reached more people and spread much faster than accurate information.

Spotting fake news is a vital skill, but it can be tricky. Here are some tips:

Look at the source: Click away from the story to investigate the site. Is it one you recognise?

Check the date: Old news stories are not always relevant to current events and can be misleading.

Read the whole article: Headlines are written to attract clicks and do not represent the whole story.

Ask for advice: If you are not sure if an article is true, ask a teacher or another adult to help you. Also search for similar stories from websites you already trust.

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Assembly

Watch this video for a clear introduction to fake news and how to spot it.

Activities

  1. Create a poster for your classmates, with tips about fake news and how to spot it online.
  2. Become a fake news detective. Using the tips above, check an article you find on the internet for fake news. Is it accurate? How can you tell?