Tech Tip Tuesday: #eCubSafe: Spotting Disinformation Online

#eCubSafe: Spotting Disinformation Online

Among the nine areas of being a responsible digital citizen that were proposed by M. Ribble (2015), (access, commerce, communication, literacy, etiquette, law, rights/responsibilities, health/wellness, and digital security), spotting disinformation online can be taught, learned, and understood through adequate digital literacy.

Digital literacy – Technological literacy requires citizens keep up with digital changes.

Media literacy will allow students and teachers the knowledge needed to safely surf the internet and spot disinformation.  Students need to learn and develop the habit of analyzing all news and information, not just the stories we think are suspicious.

A note for educators: Media literacy questions and observation techniques give students tools to navigate their way through disinformation without getting stuck in arguments or hurting relationships with friends and family. But they need to ask questions and get used to applying critical inquiry to information that comes their way. (Google Be Internet Awesome Curriculum)

Many students have never been taught how to spot fake information, but they end up sharing and/or clicking on misinformation anyway.  This is how misinformation spreads from one user to another.  Here are some goals for students when learning about ways to spot disinformation online:

✓ Identify clues which indicate that a news or information source is deceptive. 
✓ Use analytical questions and careful observation to evaluate source credibility. 
✓ Understand the importance of checking a source’s credibility before sharing their message. 
✓ Develop the habit of analyzing all news and information, not just the stories we think are suspicious.  (Google Be Internet Awesome Curriculum)

It's hard spotting disinformation if you aren't sure of what you should be looking for, so here are some helpful tips to help you and your students:

  • Look For Fake URLs
    • Most companies use short URLs because they are easier to remember and type, so URLs with added, unnecessary letters are often fake sites.
  • Inspect Headlines
    • Sometimes when you click on a URL that has a catchy picture or an interesting ploy to get you to click on the URL, the story has little or nothing to do with the picture.  Here is some more information from Google's Be Internet Awesome website:
      • Instead of letting you decide for yourself, people who are trying to convince you to agree with them sometimes use things like boldface, ALL CAPS, underlining, or exclamation points to get you to think what you’re seeing is important. Real journalists don’t use those formatting tools.  To get you to read a story, some people include words in the headline like “shocking” or “outrageous” or “surprising.” They know words like that make us curious. But real journalists let the news speak for itself. They tell the story and let us decide if it is shocking or surprising.
  • Inspect Sources
    • When we analyze news, clues can be helpful, but they aren’t always enough. Sometimes real news stories use techniques to attract our attention, and that can make them seem fake. And sometimes fake sources are so good at copying the real thing that it’s hard to tell they’re not. It’s hard to tell them apart.
A while back we did a blog post on safe websites for students to use when conducting research online, feel free to check it out, HERE:

For more information, check out all the great digital citizenship info from Google's Be Internet Awesome resource packet:

(Don't worry, especially after reading this great post about Spotting Disinformation Online, the link I provided above is SAFE... and thanks for being so ALERT!) :)

Also, check out their site:

ENJOY and be an amazing Digital Citizen!

Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know (3rd ed.). Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education