New debunking website helps fight viral misinformation

In a timely (and necessary) step towards a greater information culture, a new fact-checking site launched to teach people how to better identify misinformation. Called keep rumorsit offers a one-stop-shop for debunking misinformation and insight into the fact-checking process, in addition to an authoritative library of tools to help individuals spot, verify, and fight the rapid spread of misinformation themselves .

With the growing problem of unverified information that continues to grow and spread ahead of this year’s midterm elections, every resource is essential — especially as Americans continue to drop media literacy tests and media. A 2019 Pew Research Center study found that only 26% of American adults could distinguish factual from false statements. A Stanford Study 2019 had even bleaker news on the teen front, finding that two-thirds of high school participants couldn’t spot the differences between news stories and advertisements, and 96% couldn’t effectively determine the credibility of a story. source.

Social media is also not helping this situation. Sites like Twitter and TikTok are fighting constant barrages of misinformation. A 2022 report from fact-checking organization NewsGuard found that 20% of videos suggested by TikTok’s search function contain incorrect information. To solve this problem, TikTok has teamed up with the National Association for Media Literacy (Name and deleted accounts spreading harmful misinformation. Other social media platforms, like YouTube, Twitter, and even Pinterest, do the same, if not more, like Twitter’s misleading posting flags and Birdwatch Fact Checking Program.

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But there is still a lot of work to be done, especially in the area of ​​individual education.

RumorGuard was created by a non-partisan educational association The Media Literacy Project, which teaches and fosters the skills needed to discern credible news stories with the goal of expanding news literacy. The organization approaches the task in different ways, giving particular attention to young people and providing resources and expertise to educators. But now the organization has made a big push with the general public, helping people of all ages learn about news literacy.

“Misinformation is a real threat to our democracy, our health and our environment. But too many people don’t know how to verify the information they receive and are convinced that there is no useful action they can take. to protect themselves and others from being duped,” Charles Salter, president and CEO of the News Literacy Project, wrote in the website announcement.

The website is an interactive fact-checking resource, drawing on external and internal professional fact-checkers, viral misinformation and rumours, offering users the opportunity to not only debunk the big stuff floating around their feeds Twitter or shared on their family members’ Facebook pages, but also the opportunity to learn how to verify the facts themselves, all using a simple test to assess the credibility of a message. This process looks at five factors, the organization explains:

Source: Was the information published by a credible source?

Evidence: Is there any evidence proving that the statement is true?

Context: Is the context provided accurate?

Rationale: Is the claim based on sound reasoning?

Authenticity: Is the information authentic or has it been edited, modified or completely made up?

Dan Evon, senior director of education design at the News Literacy Project, a writer for RumorGuard and a former fact-checker himself, described the project as an extension of traditional single-point fact-checking created to meet the almost impossible demand for demystifications. “There is too much misinformation to cover it all. There are a dozen sites doing this work, and there are hundreds, thousands of people spreading fake content,” he explained. “There’s just this imbalance between the media we consume and the corrected information.”

Each instance of a debunked piece of misinformation acts as a kind of lesson in the spread of misinformation, with actionable tools to recognize and address future instances. “We have a ton of resources that we’ve built over the years that were originally intended for classrooms and teachers, but we think they’re really useful for the general public,” Alee Quick explained. , civic marketing manager for the News Literacy Project. “It’s meant to be a learning experience so the next time people see something going viral on their feed, they can take what they’ve learned and apply it for themselves.”

It is meant to empower individuals in all sorts of settings, but especially in your own social circles. “We know it’s really hard to talk to people who might share misinformation,” Quick said. “But when those conversations start with friends and family, it’s a little easier to digest. It’s easier to talk to your parents or hear it from your child. RumorGuard is how we try to give people the means to do so.

RumorGuard is a new variant of many fact-checking websites, like snopes, which provide viral “debunking” to curb the spread of misinformation. What sets RumorGuard apart, however, is this engagement with future learning and, beyond simple demystification, its choice to give visitors a longer look at the details. Each debunking describes the misleading rumor or video or misinformation, explaining what is factually incorrect and exactly where the content failed the organization’s five-factor test. As it scrolls, the draft provides important elements of the post, such as its social media reach and potential impact, as well as the broader context in which this type of rumor operates online. The site also includes tutorials and technical guides at the bottom of each debunking delving even further into the process, as well as a video walkthrough of the misinformation to share as needed.

In a timely example, the site’s latest post debunks a viral tweet implying that an elephant seal was found walking the streets of Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. The video is captioned (a common occurrence around natural disasters, RumorGuard says, and something to watch), and is actually a 2020 video by Puerto Cisnes, Chile. Other examples offer previews of edited videos, such as a misrepresenting President Donald Trump and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema togetheror fabricated titles that mislead social media users into believing incorrect “expert claims”.

The platform is also part of a broader digital campaign against misinformation, which the News Literacy Project describes as similar to those against littering, smoking or drunk driving. He hopes to create a national movement for information literacy across all ages, and could be expanded in the future with things like straight-to-inbox rumor alerts and other social pushes.

The mission of the News Literacy Project is to put as many disinformation blocking tools as possible into the hands of as many people as possible, and its library of apps, learning modules, and sites like RumorGuard do just that. “The one thing I hope people take away from is slowing down a bit,” Evon said. “Take a second to think critically, and then we’ll give you the skills to go from there.”

About Sandra A. Powell

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