Did you see CNN lightened the skin tone of the Memphis police officers who killed Tyre Nichols?
Did you hear on the news earth is actually cooling, not heating up?
Well you shouldn’t have because these headlines are fake.
In a world with a 24-hour news cycle and information overload plaguing people’s minds, it can be hard to identify what headlines are true and which ones are false. As readers, it is within our power to fact check the news that we read.
Now, more than ever, it is important to care about fighting the battle against misinformation. A recent study from University of Southern California found misinformation spreads on social media due to reward-based algorithms.
When misinformation is shared on social media platforms, users gain resharing habits. Once the algorithm learns the habits, misinformation will pop up under recommended feeds for the companies to prioritize engagement.
“I think that journalism is the only thing that is really ensuring that we continue to have a thriving democracy,” said Ashton Marra, a journalism professor at West Virginia University. Caring about news literacy impacts everyone, so it’s your time to join us in the movement.
What is news literacy?
Connie Schultz, a USA Today columnist and a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, said news literacy is “an informed consumption of the news, … of reporting and journalism, and the ability to distinguish between rumor and outright misinformation versus something that we can confirm, as reported as factual.”
The News Literacy Project is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization striving to create a national educational movement to see news literacy become an integral part of American life, and people of all ages and backgrounds know how to identify credible news. NLP’s mission is to create better informed, more engaged and empowered individuals, fostering a stronger democracy.
Ways to avoid misinformation
The News Literacy Project provides the public with many free tools to help fight misinformation. An app, newsletter and two fact-checking databases.
The two weekly newsletters are The Sift and Get Smart About News. The Sift is for educators, which includes discussion ideas for the classroom. Get Smart About News is for the general public and includes latest misinformation examples and tips to stop the spread.
RumorGuard is a platform that fact checks viral information to make sure news consumers are getting accurate news. RumorGuard runs through five factors of viral information, the source, evidence, context, reasoning and authenticity to verify the credibility of the article.
Checkology is an online resource that prompts the user to choose what type of source you need to verify, it will then ask you a series of questions for the user to answer which will lead to understanding the level of credibility.
The Informable app has a series of games to learn to spot advertisements, evidence, news and opinion on social media and news websites, making it fun to learn how to decipher what may be misinformation.
We are part of a team of Kent State PR, journalism and advertising students hoping to Defeat the Deception by raising awareness about misinformation and the News Literacy Project. The campaign’s goal is to educate Northeast Ohioans on news literacy, and resources such as Checkology and Rumor Guard and empower individuals to help stop the spread of misinformation.
Individuals can join the movement against misinformation by signing the online pledge (can be signed here) to pledge to fact check social media news posts and look for opinion terms in articles before reposting on social media. You have the power to stop misinformation.