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Fake news is not a problem to be solved by technology, we need critical thinking.

By Yusuf Tamanna

The national curriculum needs to teach young people how to critique information online, according to an expert in digital media speaking at Westminster on 28 November 2018.

Farida Vis, a professor in digital media at the Manchester School of Art, told The House of Lords commitee about the impact social media is having on politics.

'We’re dealing with highly sophisticated technology that is intent on misinforming. If we just design systems to tackle this we show our hand and inform similar technologies of what they can do to further subvert these processes,' Vis said.

‘This is not a problem to be solved by technology alone. One potential remedy is to encourage digital literacy and critical thinking skills in education.  Not only for young people, but for all citizens so they know how to deal with false information online.'

Vis conducted her own research that found just 20% of people check the sources of the news they’re reading online every time. While a further 18% rarely do and 19% never check where the news they read is coming from.

When asked by the committee whether the spread of false information is an old problem with a new face, Vis said the rise of fake news in particular is a brand new challenge for everyone.

‘There is now a break between the source of the information and the content itself. Coupled with the scale, speed and package of this information and how it’s being shared, we are dealing with something completely different.’

Further reading:

Young people on: fake news - What are young people's thoughts on the rise of fake news and what are they doing to spot it?

Think critically - A guide for parents on how toencourage their children to think critically about what they read online.