Disinformation is understood as deliberately misleading or biased information; presented and disseminated for economic gain or to intentionally deceive the public, and may cause public harm.
Today, misinformation spreads very easily thanks to technology on social media.
Hoaxes and fake news have multiplied in recent months both around the American presidential elections and the Covid-19 pandemic, spreading false and misleading news.
The global proliferation of social media, the 24-hour news cycle and consumers’ ravenous desire for news – immediately and in bite-size chunks – means that today, misinformation is more abundant and accessible than ever.
The fake news are purposefully crafted, sensational, emotionally charged, misleading or totally fabricated information that mimics the form of mainstream news”
the various ways that false information is shared, and the motives and appeal behind it, is important in avoiding and combating it.
Fake news providers seek to capture a user’s attention with wild claims in the hope they’ll click on it and go to the source website or share it. The provider can then raise revenue through advertising on their website. The more outlandish the claims, the more likely people are to click or share it. The more site traffic the provider receives, the more advertising revenue they can raise.
Fake news has been particularly associated with high-profile events like the 2016 Brexit referendum, the 2016 US presidential election, and the pandemic. It has shaken trust in institutions, governments and even the COVID vaccine.
Over the past few years, research in psychological science and political science has started to assess who falls for fake news and how we can help people to detect and discard it.
Fake news can be difficult to fight because of how quickly it spreads. Nicole Cooke of the University of South Carolina School of Information Science explains how libraries and information organizations are in prime positions to assist their students and patrons with disputing misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation.
One important strategy for fighting such threats is through digital media literacy education.
Media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending. There is a huge amount of information from a wide array of sources. There are text messages, memes, viral videos, social media, video games, advertising, and more. But all media shares one thing: Someone created it. And it was created for a reason. Understanding that reason is the basis of media literacy.
Media literacy helps learn how to determine whether something is credible and determine the persuasive intent of advertising and resist the techniques marketers use to sell products.
To become media literate is not to memorize facts or statistics about the media, but rather to learn to raise the right questions about what you are watching, reading or listening to. Len Masterman, the acclaimed author of Teaching the Media, calls it “critical autonomy” or the ability to think for oneself. Without this fundamental ability, people cannot have full dignity as human person or exercise citizenship in a democratic society where to be a citizen is to both understand and contribute to the debates of the time.
We are dealing with the topic of fake news and disinformation at school thanks to the eTwinning Project “On the spot”, where students and teachers from three countries (Spain, Italy, Bulgaria) are working together for focusing the problem, analysing the main sources of information in our communities and find ways to spot fake news, develop critical thinking and become wiser consumers of media.