The Internet may be the greatest information technology ever developed: every minute, four million YouTube videos are viewed, 3.5 million Google searches are performed, and 156 million emails are sent. The Internet and social media have made it easier for everybody to access, share and publish information, but that has come at a cost: it’s harder than ever to tell the difference between accurate information and advertising, misinformation and parody, and it’s easy for any of us to help spread false information without meaning to.
Because so many of us turn to online sources for information, authentication (the process of verifying that information is true, unbiased and relevant) can no longer be something we only practice in school: our health, our finances, and even our democracy depend on having – and sharing – good information.
To help Canadians develop the search, authentication and critical thinking skills that are needed in the digital age, MediaSmarts and Facebook Canada have partnered together to develop the Reality Check! program. Over the course of this two-year public awareness and education initiative, we will be developing a series of videos, tip sheets and activities that will give Canadians of all ages the tools they need to verify different kinds of online information and to help them understand why it’s important to double-check before they share information online.
These fast, fun and engaging activities provide teens and adults with the opportunity to test their skills and learn new authentication techniques.
On the internet, it can be hard to tell what’s true and what’s false—but we have to make a lot of decisions based on how reliable we think things are. In Reality Check, you’ll learn how to find clues like finding where a story originally came from and comparing it to other sources, as well as how to use tools like fact-checking sites and reverse image searches.
Because fact-checking shouldn’t be a chore, each scenario is designed to be played in 15 minutes or less. The game can be played in any internet browser on computers or mobile devices.
News You Can Use
The first video and tip sheet in this series provides tips and tricks to verify online news.
Online news is one of the hardest things to verify. Sometimes early reports that turn out not to be true still circulate on the Internet, and people may spread false reports for commercial or malicious reasons, or even just for “fun.”
In this lesson, students consider the meanings of the term “fake news” and learn facts about the news industry that will help them recognize legitimate sources of news.
Authentication and Citizenship
The second video and tip sheet in this series helps voters make informed decisions about issues and candidates during elections.
Being well-informed – and being careful to only share good information – are essential parts of being an active citizen in a democracy. It’s important to think before you share political information with family and friends – especially during an election. Here are three tips to help make sure you have good information about important issues.
In this lesson, students consider the ways in which misinformation can have an impact on history and politics.
Getting the Goods on Science and Health
The third video and tip sheet in this series provides tips to find good information about health and science topics.
Two of the most important kinds of information we look for online are about health and science. Because most of us aren’t experts on these topics, we rely on people and organizations who are experts for good information. But how do we know who we can count on? Here are some tips to help you find good information about health and science topics.
In this lesson, students start by considering the wide range of science and health information they are likely to encounter in news or through social media.
The fourth video and tip sheet in this series focuses on what individuals can do to recognize false content online.
Did you know that almost a quarter of adults have shared a false news story, and that we’re least likely to fact-check news and other things that come to us through people we know and trust on social networks (even though for many people these are their most common sources of news)?
In this lesson, students consider the different factors that make online sources reliable or unreliable.
The fifth video and tip sheet in this series looks at the role we all play when sharing content online, and how we can help stop the spread of misinformation.
Thanks to the internet, today we’re not just consumers of news but broadcasters as well – and our friends and families are counting on us to only share accurate, reliable information. In fact, half of us pay more attention to who shared a story with us, instead of where it originally came from. Here are three tips to make sure you share good information and stop the spread of hoaxes, rumours and scams.
In this lesson, students consider the ways in which our own biases can prevent us from being objective.
 “What Happens in an Internet Minute in 2017?” Jeff Desjardins, Visual Capitalist, Aug 2 2017. http://www.visualcapitalist.com/happens-internet-minute-2017/