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Information Literacy

Background Information

Issues of information literacy are a hot topic in recent years. Evaluating the quality and veracity of facts, and detecting "fake news" — are vital skills for today's youth. This module will help teach young people how to find and critically assess facts and data they find on social media sites in a conscientious manner.

We define information literacy as the ability to cautiously search and evaluate information online. While social media sites serve as convenient platforms for us to look for materials -- from completing a class project to enhancing our everyday knowledge -- not every source and medium is reliable. Information literacy helps us not only determine the accuracy of internet content and interpret and use new information intelligently, but also helps us be responsible when creating and communicating ideas.

Social media sites introduce additional complications when it comes to evaluating source credibility. Evaluating the validity of news is difficult, but when news is shared by people we know, our judgments about source credibility can be clouded by our perceptions of the credibility of those people. It can be hard to stop incorrect information when it's being shared by people we generally trust, or by many people at once.

Introductory Questions

News/Facts Evaluation questions

Activity Prep Questions

Activity: Can you spot the difference between fake news and real facts?

In this activity, we're going to ask you to identify which news people shared are real and which of them are fake.

There are eight easy ways to identify fake news or information:

  1. Visuals use emojis/ crazy images/ bright colors/ wild fonts meant to attract attention
  2. Uses excessive punctuation or ALL CAPS for emphasis
  3. Does it seem like it's trying to create an emotional reaction? Make you sad or angry?
  4. Does it claim to be telling a secret/ something an authority figure doesn't want you to know?
  5. There is no source given
  6. There is no author given
  7. There are no direct quotes, date or statistics/ data
  8. There is no link to the source material

Your job is to decide whether the things other users shared are accurate and trustworthy.

If you see that another user is sharing news or facts that you think are real, hit the "like" button next to their posts. If you think that their posts are weird or questionable, use the "reply" function to explain to them why you think their posts are skeptical.

You might see that other people are also replying to the same posts that you're planning to reply to. That's fine! Just state your opinion, and say why you agree or disagree with their comments.

After you're done, scroll through the news feed and make sure you're happy with your choices. When you complete this activity, you'll get a chance to review the posts you reacted to; that is posts that you liked and/or replied to.

Any questions?

Optional Activity: Spread Real News

If they complete the News Feed activity early, participants can choose a news article from a reputable source and share it in a post of their own. They can include an image from the article to upload.

Post-Activity Discussion

Review the types of posts you commented on.

Post-Activity Questions

Why do you think information literacy is important? Why do you think identifying fake news is important?

Do you think you have the skills to be a responsible internet citizen when searching for facts and information?

Think about a project you've done in the past. Where did you look for information? Were your sources trustworthy?

Think about posts people share online. How would you identify fake posts or news people share?

How will you help your friends and family identify false information online?

If you have to make a post that conveys facts or something that you want others to perceive as truthful, what would you do? What kinds of things would you include in your post?

If you made a post of your own on the site, why did you choose to post what you did?


(Content based on Common Sense Education)

Compiled October 2017 by the Cornell Social Media Lab - sml.comm.cornell.edu

Feedback is welcome!