Opinion: Teachers can show students what is real news and what is not
People don't ask people they don't know for information. Online, things are different. There, people read stories written by people they do not know all the time.
In 2016, Americans chose the next leader of the United States. People read news on the Internet about the people running for president. Some of these stories were true. Some of them were not true. Many people could not tell which was which. When websites have incorrect news, it is called "fake news."
Some Stories Lie
Fake news makes money. News websites get paid when they have more visits to the stories. More people visit the stories when they are interesting. Sometimes, people write stories that are fake just because people will read them. This way, the writers make money. It doesn't matter that the stories lie. It only matters that people click on them.
Hard To Tell The Difference
Fake news stories look just like real stories. Some readers cannot tell the difference between the two. Sometimes, people believe fake stories are true.
History teachers already know about this problem. T. Mills Kelly is a history teacher. He wanted to help students see how easy it is to believe fake information.
Kelly created a class called "Lying About the Past" in 2008. Students created fake websites about Edward Owens. Owens was a made-up fisherman who attacked boats in the 1870s. The fake stories students created looked just like real news. Students learned not to always trust what they read. It is not all true.
Ask The Right Questions
History class is a good place to teach students what is true and untrue. Asking the right questions helps. For example, who wrote the article? Where did they learn what they know? This way, readers can decide if the writing is trustworthy.
Everyone can write news on the Internet. Teachers need to show students what is true and what is not. This will help them stay away from fake stories. This helps us keep the United States strong. It protects our power as people.
Kevin M. Levin is a historian and educator in Boston, Massachusetts. He has written books about the Civil War. You can find him online at Civil War Memory and Twitter @kevinlevin.