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. Come back often to see what new resources have been added.
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.”
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.
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.
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)?
 “What Happens in an Internet Minute in 2017?” Jeff Desjardins, Visual Capitalist, Aug 2 2017. http://www.visualcapitalist.com/happens-internet-minute-2017/