Having a good understanding of online dangers and fake news is of utmost importance in schools. This is especially true in high schools. In times of crisis like today with the Covid-19 pandemic, fake news is a hazard that people must be aware of in order to prevent panic worldwide. However, “the term fake doesn’t begin to describe the complexity of the different types of misinformation (the inadvertent sharing of false information) and disinformation (the deliberate creation and sharing of information known to be false)” (Wardle, 2017). It is a danger that is often overlooked, but is perhaps the worst aspect of the online world.
It is so easy for anyone to add information to the internet, whether it be real or fake. The issue here is to do with screening that information that is fake, and identifying it before it goes viral. An example of this is the current Covid-19 crisis. News about vaccines, or different things that prevent the spread are constantly being added to the internet. It is even written that alcohol helps prevent the virus. All this false information creates a ‘boy who cried wolf’ scenario. Nobody knows what to believe anymore as what they have been told has been false, but they cannot identify truth.
Another issue with fake news is identity fraud. People constantly use pictures or profiles of others to surf the web and stay under the radar. This makes it “easy to clone a website and get a similar-enough URL to create a fake site” (Dawn, 2020). Countless big names have been involved in scandals from rape, to fraud. This can ruin people’s lives. It is even a danger to have personal information on your computer. That idea seems ridiculous, but scammers will stop at nothing to get what they want, even if it means ruining the lives of others.
There are many ways to combat the idea of fake news. To put it in simple terms, “Narrowly defined, “fake news” means a made-up article with an intention to deceive, often geared toward getting clicks” (Shulten & Brown, 2017). By looking for small, intricate details, one can easily identify a fake profile or news. Things to pay attention to include: the date of the post, when the person registered their account, in the case of a famous person the account should be verified, or for the references used in the post. By taking all these factors into account, generally one can tell if the account in question is real.
Fake news is a major danger in the online world. With all the information stored on the internet, nobody is safe. This is why it is of utmost importance that students are taught the dangers of the online world in depth. Mistakes online can change their lives forever.
Dawn, I. (2020, February 20). What’s News: Fake, False, Misleading, Clickbait, Satire, or Carefully Reported?Retrieved from Tilt: https://uminntilt.com/2017/02/20/news-fake-false-misleading-clickbait-satire-or-carefully-reported/
Shulten, K., & Brown, A. C. (2017, January 19). Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning About Fake News. Retrieved from nytimes.com: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/learning/lesson-plans/evaluating-sources-in-a-post-truth-world-ideas-for-teaching-and-learning-about-fake-news.html?_r=0
Wardle, C. (2017, Febuary 16). To understand the misinformation ecosystem, here’s a break down of the types of fake content, content creators motivations and how it’s being disseminated. Retrieved from First Draft News: https://firstdraftnews.org/latest/fake-news-complicated/