“Firewall of Facts”: We Are Bellingcat, p. 151

“We all need to stay alert to disinformation techniques. If you imagine that digital natives, those who grew up with the internet, are equipped to handle this environment, you are wrong. A Stanford study from 2016, which tested thousands’ of American students’ ability to spot fakery online, reported that young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak. In every case and at every level, we were taken aback by students’ lack of preparation. Some 82 percent of middle-school students could not tell a news story from an advertisement.

“The Swedes have developed teaching materials to educate kids about fake news, online propaganda and doctored imagery. Teenagers in Ukraine — perhaps the country most assaulted by propaganda trolls — are taking classes on media literacy to good effect: students who participated in a pilot programme were twice as alert to hate speech and 18 per cent better at spotting fake news. In Denmark, ‘Trolls in Your Feed’ is a publication for high-school kids, part of a push there against Russian disinformation. Classes, including cautionary study of false news reports, are working their way into school curricula in parts of the United States.”

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