Learn news literacy this week Teens impact online safety | AI political ads
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The Get Smart About News team
Many young activists involved in kids’ online safety debates have asked for policies and reform. Photo credit: News Literacy Project.
Young people would like a say in online safety measures adults create for them, with some student-led activist groups successfully lobbying federal and state lawmakers. Whether it’s a question of scaling back parental consent for teens to access social media platforms or discussions about adding guardrails to algorithms that target minors, young activists say they’d like to be “meaningful collaborators” in online safety debates.
A student-run newspaper in Chicago — which began five years ago as a pet project for a 10-year-old girl — has evolved into a hard-hitting publication that’s sparked interest in local news online and in print. The young staff of The Kidler have covered a wide array of local issues, including politics, disparities in public schools, housing, bike lanes and climate change. The 15-year-old publisher’s goal? “To encourage more participation in the democratic process.”
Political ads with content generated or altered by artificial intelligence are allowed on YouTube and other Google products, but the tech company will soon require prominent disclaimers for those kinds of ads. There is pending federal legislation that would require such labels; in addition, the Federal Election Commission is exploring regulations on “deepfake” videos in political ads.
NO: This is not an authentic video of a crowd chanting “We want Trump” as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed a prayer vigil for victims of an Aug. 26 shooting in Jacksonville, Florida. YES: The original video shows DeSantis being booed and heckled during the Aug. 27 vigil. But the audio of “We want Trump” chants and the CNN chyron — including the text “DESANTIS HECKLED IN JACKSONVILLE” — were digitally added to the clip.
NewsLit takeaway: Altering video by adding unrelated audio of crowds booing, cheering or chanting has become a common practice of purveyors of disinformation. This can be an effective tactic as it creates the appearance of public consensus. And due to the bandwagon effect, which is the tendency for people to follow the crowd, these manipulated videos can manipulate public opinion.
Since these altered videos typically feature noise from an offscreen source, there aren’t always visual cues to help determine the footage’s authenticity. Remember, checking viral content against multiple sources is the best way to make sure you don’t get duped by disinformation. Searching for “Ron DeSantis” and “heckled” pulled up several news articles about this footage, all of which reported that the crowd was booing and interrupting DeSantis — but not cheering for former President Donald Trump.
NO: The World Health Organization did not call for mass vaccinations to help combat climate change. YES: This rumor originated on The People’s Voice, a website with a long history of publishing falsehoods. YES: In an Aug. 9 media briefing, WHO officials discussed the role of climate change in the spread of illnesses in places where those infections don’t usually occur and the use of vaccines to address that specific problem. NO: None of the WHO officials at the media briefing or elsewhere have suggested mass vaccine mandates.
NewsLit takeaway: Making sure a news item came from a credible source is a key step in avoiding being misinformed. For an unfamiliar website, do a quick web search to see whether reputable news outlets published anything about it. In this case, a quick search shows that “The People’s Voice” is merely a rebrand of NewsPunch, a notorious purveyor of conspiracy theories and other fabricated content.
How do editors and reporters decide exactly how a headline should read? NPR’s public editor provides some answers to this question in an examination of this headline: “Top American cyclist Magnus White, 17, dies after being hit by a car.” One critical reader argued that the cyclist was hit by a driver, not a car — but editors had their reasons for this approach.
Black newspapers have historically provided essential coverage of Black people and social justice issues too often missing in the mainstream press — and in the digital age, that history isn’t lost on the new Black press.
AI technology played a major role in the firing of Gizmodo en Español staff. The Spanish-language news site will be replaced with AI translations of English articles — which lack the cultural knowledge and subtleties understood by human translators.
Before a struggling small newspaper in Iowa was about to shut down, community members quickly stepped in to keep the outlet going, with a focus on local school news and events.
K-12 students today were born after Sept. 11, 2001, so educators are teaching about the attacks in a more historical context — and addressing student questions inspired by conspiracy theories online.
Repeated exposure to sensational misinformation online can not only cause falsehoods to seem true, but it can also reduce how unethical sharing misinformation feels to people, according to a new study.