Can Students Tell The Difference Between Fake News And Real News?

Red Computer Keyboard with balloons showing Fake News or Facts

Stanford and Harvard study confirms what most of us are already thinking. That most readers and children cannot distinguish the diffence between “fake news” and “real news.”

Preteens and teens may are very fluent with social-media sites, uploading selfies of themselves, texting friends and navigating the digita world. But are often clueless about evaluating the accuracy and trustworthiness of what news they read online.

The Wall Street Journal reporter Sue Shellenbarger wrote a piece that I found very interesting.  Below is most of the article from WSJ in regards to the study.


Teens absorb social media news without considering the source; parents can teach research skills and skepticism

Some 82% of middle-schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website, according to a Stanford University study of 7,804 students from middle school through college. The study, set for release Tuesday, is the biggest so far on how teens evaluate information they find online. Many students judged the credibility of newsy tweets based on how much detail they contained or whether a large photo was attached, rather than on the source.


Twitter, Facebook and Google are taking steps to reduce fake news, misinformation, and harassment on the internet after users expressed concerns that false news stories and hate speech fueled divisiveness in the recent presidential election campaign. Photo: Bloomberg News

More than two out of three middle-schoolers couldn’t see any valid reason to mistrust a post written by a bank executive arguing that young adults need more financial-planning help. And nearly four in 10 high-school students believed, based on the headline, that a photo of deformed daisies on a photo-sharing site provided strong evidence of toxic conditions near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, even though no source or location was given for the photo.

Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google are taking steps to prevent sites that disseminate fake news from using their advertising platforms, and Twitter Inc. is moving to curb harassment by users. But that won’t get rid of false or biased information online, which comes from many sources, including deceptive advertising, satirical websites and misleading partisan posts and articles.

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