“Fake news” is a term thrown about quite a lot lately thanks to our POTUS’s insistence that just about everything in the media he doesn’t like is fake. And while many times his claims are bogus, that doesn’t mean fake news isn’t infiltrating our news feeds on a daily basis. The trick is knowing how to detect it, and Maggie Farley, a journalist, has created an online game to help consumers of information assess their ability to sniff it out when they see it.
The online game is called Factitious, and as NPR reports, while it was initially created for middle and high school students, it is now appropriate and helpful for users of all ages who are “open to asking questions.”
The game works much like Tinder in that users swipe left or right depending on whether they think an article presented to them is real or not. The key, however, is to click to reveal the source of each article, as this can both teach users which news sources are credible and, in turn, help users determine a story’s reliability, not just for the purposes of playing the game, but also for evaluating the authenticity of information they encounter in their daily lives.
Users are challenged to analyze and evaluate not only headlines and sources, but also the characteristics of each post, such as whether specific experts are named in an article, which means players must learn to carefully review information before making a snap decision as to its validity. This is good news for those of us who are sick of seeing people jump the gun in comments sections when it’s clear they haven’t even taken the time to click on a link and digest its content.
As a teacher, I can’t tell you how exciting I find this game. Teaching students to be critical consumers of media is of the utmost importance, especially today where one cannot even look at social media for more than a few seconds without seeing others reposting and sharing suspicious content on the regular.
And what’s better than a classroom tool such as this? A classroom tool that is projected to get even better and more user-friendly.
Bob Hone, the game designer who put Farley’s ideas into action, says that because the game is open source, soon everyone — teachers, journalists, and everyday citizens alike — will be able to use it for their own unique purposes, submitting news articles they’ve discovered on their own and collecting data on readers’ perceptions of the accuracy of specific content.
So … how well do you think you are able to detect fake news when you see it? Check out Factitious and put your skills to the test.
Just don’t be surprised if you have to eat some humble pie. It’s not as easy to master as you might think.
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