As part of the "How do we make information" series, in collaboration with Agence Science-Presse, we look today at how to recognize a reliable news site.
In these times of global pandemic, the neologism "infodemia" has been coined and now refers to the overabundance of information, credible or not, that is giving a hard time to anyone trying to find their way in this ocean of content. Medical misinformation, conspiracy theories, rumors about government actions, hijacked photos and videos, attempted scams or hoaxes, false information about COVID-19 is spreading faster than the virus. Here is a short video that explains how to sharpen your reflexes in the search for truth.
Infodemic, you say?
This new portmanteau, formed from the fusion of the words "information" and "epidemic", characterizes the unprecedented phenomenon of the spread of information of all kinds concerning COVID-19 on the Web.
“More than ever, conspiracy theories are popular. The charlatans who sell fake miracle cures are rubbing their hands. Fake news puts on their best clothes. And all of this is particularly worrying at a time when correct and accurate information is nothing more or less than a matter of life and death. "La Presse, April 5, 2020
Sorting out information and disinformation in this ocean of content can be quite an achievement today. People need to be reassured, to know all the answers, to have a feeling of control over the situation. In these times of crisis, it's easy to let emotions get the best of your senses. This is why we find so much content with questionable intentions that can lead to different cognitive biases, thereby altering critical judgment. Some gurus and charlatans therefore take advantage of the situation to influence and rally as many people as possible to their cause.
“Adherence to certain conspiracy theories is often more widespread among young people. This can be explained in particular by the fact that they are more inclined to shun traditional media and to get information on social media. "La Presse, April 5, 2020
To doubt or to trust?
To doubt or to trust? This should be the question to ask yourself every time you see new information appearing on your favorite social network. The TikTok, Snapchat and Twitch of this world remain fertile grounds for disinformation and the sharing of “fake news” among young people. Among older people, Facebook remains the platform where the most falsehoods are spread.
“Last January, a study published by the American journal Science Advances revealed that Facebook users over 65 spread fake news seven times more than young people. However, young or old, we are all likely to fall for it. "La Presse, April 5, 2020
It is important, even essential, in the context of the current crisis, to choose credible sources of information when it comes time to get informed, such as Radio-Canada, La Presse, The news, Science-Press Agency, the École branchée. In addition to trusting these media that publish reliable content, web specialists have set up platforms where they sift through an impressive amount of news to disentangle the true from the false. Les Décrypteurs de Radio-Canada, the rumor detector from the Agence Science-Presse and the Decoders of the newspaper Le Monde are experts in dealing with fake news that spreads on social media. They restore the facts and give the right time, among other things, on everything related to COVID-19.
Here are three questions to ask yourself before sharing content from a site:
- Who is behind the site?
- Is the information neutral?
- Does the site have a good reputation?
*You will find here a reminder poster prepared by Agence Science-Presse which will help your pupils to recognize a reliable information site.
At the end of these activities, students will be able to do their own research and verify information on their own by giving themselves the necessary tools to identify reliable information sites.
Disciplines and levels targeted
– ECR (lower secondary)
- Autonomy: Identify conditions that promote exercise
autonomy (eg critical judgment, common sense, moral responsibility, the ability to choose, authenticity, resourcefulness). Name benchmarks that support and enrich ethical reflection on autonomy (e.g. charters, laws, regulations,
Objectives of the activities
- Choose neutral and relevant sources of information.
- Identify the elements that characterize a reliable and credible site or media.
- Identify the elements that characterize a site or media to be wary of.
- Compare similar publications and be able to distinguish items that claim to be misleading.
Click here to have access to a quiz on “misinformation” created from the Quizizz platform. Students will be in 'practice' mode, so no adults are required to start the quiz and they will have plenty of time to answer the questions.
☝️ How to recognize a reliable news site
On the menu of this activity sheet:
- Exercise 1: Which of the sites/media listed will tend to present neutral and relevant information? Explain your choices.
- Exercise 2: For each of these media, identify the following criteria: postal code, owner (if any), editor
- Exercise 3: These sites publish articles on health and science. Which ones should you be wary of? Explain your choices.
- Exercise 4: Here are two very similar Facebook posts. What is the difference?
🔎 ABOUT THIS SPECIAL SERIES
Through eight pedagogical sheets, students will be put in the shoes of a journalist and carry out activities specially created to enlighten them on various facets of news production in the age of social networks.
The design of the various educational sheets was made possible thanks to the collaboration between theScience-Press Agency and École branchée. Each sheet contains a theoretical part on a specific subject relating to the production of information, in addition to activities that tend to develop various disciplinary and digital skills in the student.
Check out the other guides in this special feature:
Sheet #1: Information vs opinion
Sheet #3: Journalistic sources
Sheet #4: Confirmation bias
Sheet #5: How to recognize hidden advertising
Sheet #6: News media
File #7: Scientific information
Sheet #8: Disinformation