The BBC's New Scheme Will Teach Teenagers How to Spot Fake News

By Tom Pritchard on at

How does one spot fake news? Apparently it's more complicated than checking a different news outlet. Who knew? Obviously the BBC did, because it's launching a brand new scheme to help secondary school and sixth form students spot fake news stories and filter out false information.

From next March 1,000 schools will be offered mentoring sessions to spot fake stories that have been published online for some reason or another. Those sessions will be led by BBC journalists including Kamal Ahmed, Tina Daheley, Amol Rajan, and Huw Edwards, taking place in classrooms and online.

James Harding, the director of BBC News, said:

"This is an attempt to go into schools to speak to young people and give them the equipment they need to distinguish between what's true and what's false.

I think that people are getting the news all over the place - there's more information than ever before. But, as we know, some of it is old news, some of it is half truths. Some of it is just downright lies. And it's harder than ever when you look at those information feeds to discern what's true and what's not.

But there are 'tells', there are ways that you can look at your news feed and identify a story that's true and a story that's not. And we think that's a skill that enables people to make good choices about the information they get and good choices in their lives."

That point about old news is a particular gripe of mine. There have been multiple times when I've found a seemingly-important story doing the rounds in the tech media, only to realise that it's a story that broke months earlier and hasn't changed since.

It's no difficult to figure out what's real and what's fake. You just need to think critically about the whole situation, and definitely don't exclusively rely on any single news outlet to learn about the world. And if it's on social media, well, be extra careful. [BBC News]

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