Accuracy in Media

Don’t look now, but your local school library soon could be getting into the liberal indoctrination racket.

School librarians have taken it upon themselves to teach students how to identify fake news. They say they do this by helping them understand the CRAAP that comes their way.

CRAAP, which stands for Currency (timeliness), Relevance (importance), Authority (source), Accuracy (reliability) and Purpose (reason), “helps students sort through the overwhelming flood of digital information,” according to a recent story in USA TODAY.

“These are the questions we have to introduce these ideas to kids before they think they know everything,” Shannon Walters, identified in the story as the Burlington, Vt., High School librarian, reportedly told the paper.

Kids may know which images to post to Instagram and which to Snapchat, the story says. But it’s up to educators to help them “discern fake from real.”

The CRAAP system has students evaluate the accuracy and validity of content by asking the following questions:

  • –Who is the author, publisher, source or sponsor?
  • –Are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • –What are the author’s credentials or affiliations?
  • –What are the author’s qualifications to write on the topic?
  • –Does the URL tell us anything about the author – an .edu would indicate an educator for instance.

Educators say they are stepping up efforts because they were spooked by results of a study at Stanford in 2016 that found students unable to tell the difference between news articles, sponsored content and advertisements.

More than 80 percent thought the sponsored content was real news. Fewer than 20 percent questioned the source of a photo containing a false report of mutated flowers from a nuclear power plant failure.

Sponsored content can be hard for anyone to tell apart … most is written to look like news copy and contains information that can be relied upon as long as the sourcing is indicated. And questioning the source of a photo is a second-level operation for most journalists, let alone middle schoolers.

But this test is being used as a pretext to dramatically expand K-12 teachers’ ability to influence children on how to pick sources, which to rely on, what constitutes authority and which affiliations compromise objectivity.

There are workbooks and programs. There are grants and curricula. The Agency of Education’s 2014 Quality Standards now call for one full-time library media specialist and sufficient staff” to implement such programs.

There’s a new app from Google called Internet Awesome that uses games to “get kids thinking about what makes the best password, how to behave online and how to sort real from fake information.”

It even has a name – media literacy. The people who bring you declining educational results despite increased spending now want to teach our children their version of how to interpret content on the Internet. Given their political predilections, this bears watching.

Especially given that Facebook is thinking along the same lines with its announcement last month that it plans to do more to “filter … fake news from news feeds.”

The world’s most-visited website, now with more than 2 billion users, says it has identified a “tiny group” who share links – sometimes 50 within a 24-hour period – that “tend to include low-quality content such as clickbait, sensationalism and misinformation.”

If you interact with the links, you will still see them, the company said. But if you don’t, they will be deprioritized so Facebook can “improve users’ experiences with more informative and entertaining content,” Adam Mosseri, vice president of product management, wrote in a blog post on the company web site.

It also made it easier to report hoaxes, began labeling some stories as “disputed” and went after “clickbait” headlines that “withhold or exaggerate details.”

First, the beauty of Facebook is the company does not entertain us; it provides a platform through which we entertain each other. Second, who decides what constitutes “clickbait, sensationalism and misinformation?” And on what basis?

It could get complicated. What if one opposes the mighty 97 percent consensus on global warming? Does that trigger “anti-misinformation” sanctions?

A USA TODAY story said Facebook’s decision to go after fake news came in response to heat it took for spreading misinformation online during the presidential campaign. Where did that heat come from? What did those who brought it consider to have been misinformation?

photo by geralt

Why is this even a question when we’re talking about a presidential election? Isn’t it up to voters to decide which information is useful?

Besides, according to a study out last week from the Newseum Institute, Americans’ trust in what they read on the Internet is declining anyway. Amazingly, people have begun to realize all on their own that those Nigerian bank scams are not real.

There’s a reason two entities firmly on the left – educators and Facebook – suddenly have decided to help us improve our media literacy. It wants us to learn to discern the truth as they see it.

“We want students to come to conclusions that are not only true but personally meaningful and relevant,” one of the librarians said.

And now they want to guide them to that conclusion. What could go wrong?





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