I came across an excellent primer for students on How to Spot Fake News. It simplified a few things we (and students) could do to check if a story is credible.
In teaching Photoshop a big part of it is to get students to create something that seems plausible, but ‘fake.’ This week, one of my 6th graders worked on an animal face-off and was amazed at how real a photo-montage might seem, even though it was a silly cat-fight.
Back to the Common Sense Media article. It lists six things to check for:
- Who made this?
- Who is the target audience?
- Who paid for this? Or, who gets paid if you click on this?
- Who might benefit or be harmed by this message?
- What is left out of this message that might be important?
- Is this credible (and what makes you think that)?
I found a more insightful primer from Washington Post (Video below), which provided more ways to validate a story or an image. Such as:
- Dragging an image into Google images
- Downloading a Chrome Plugin for spotting Fake News
- looking closely at the URL, often made to look like the original URL
- Inspecting the image to see if it looks Photoshopped
Yes, many images we see are so heavily doctored that we turn a blind eye to the fact that they are not exactly real. So my hope is that by Photoshopping images themselves, students might pay a little more attention to the visuals coming at them from media platforms they use.
And that’s not even getting to the language used to pitch the story or idea, learning to look for clues in the craft of the writer, which is another topic entirely.