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Questioning fake news

Fake news is a common catchcry in today’s society. Being faced with the onslaught of information and having to decide what is real and what is fake can be daunting. The good news, however, is that there are numerous questions and considerations students can use to assist in determining whether the information at their fingertips can be believed.

Firstly, consider the context of the information. When was it written and from where did it arise? Have changes been made and is there more information available? Is the information relevant and up-to-date?

Take a look at the construction of or how the information is written. Is there obvious bias, any loaded words with duplicate meaning, propaganda techniques being instigated, or any omissions that you can note? Is the article written as fact or opinion, or is it just speculation?

Consider the credibility of the information. Ask yourself: are you familiar with the source of the information and is it reputable and legitimate? Have you utilised this resource in the past and has it been reliable? Have credible sources been cited for obtaining the information? Is it a form of advertising presented in news worthy format? Is the author of the information credible and knowledgeable of the information they are presenting? Can the information be proven correct from more than one source? Is it infringing copyright license?

Corroborate by reading more fully to check and ascertain more information before you decide if you are going to utilise, forward or believe the information you are being presented with. Headlines don’t always tell the whole story as they are written to catch a reader’s attention. Also, a sole article on a topic may not be verifiable. Consult with fact checkers for any information that may be dubious.

Make comparisons with other sources on the information topic in order to gain other perspectives. Your aim is to obtain the biggest picture you can of the topic.

Taking any combination of these questions into consideration develops media literacy within students, which further leads to consumption of information in a critical manner, and consequently our students become vital critical thinkers within society.