Media Literacy Act a welcome tool in the fight against fake news
You scroll through Facebook when a link, meme or post stops you.
Maybe something you read makes you angry. Maybe you agree. Maybe you are thinking about sharing it. But is there anything about this seemingly innocuous post off? Misleading? Or even blatantly wrong?
As readers, we hope we have the knowledge and intuition to spot fake news – and the integrity not to knowingly share it. However, sometimes a story or photo seems real enough to pass through as a message. And when adults can fall for fake news, imagine how evasive the truth can be for kids who grew up receiving most of their news through social media.
This is why the legislation, supported by a number of representatives from the suburban states, is so important.
House Bill 234, currently awaiting a House vote, would require all public schools to teach media literacy as part of their high school curriculum. The aim is for teenagers to learn the skills to assess the trustworthiness of media companies and the goals of the stories they read.
“Social media and the digitization of the news industry have made it easier for everyday residents to stay up to date on the latest headlines, but at the same time, illegitimate organizations have also made it easier to spread misinformation quickly.” Rep. Joyce Mason, one of the sponsors and a Gurnee Democrat said in a press release.
“Unfortunately, we have seen how these insincere articles can cause serious damage in the real world by encouraging dangerous conspiracies on issues such as the legitimacy of our elections and the safety of our vaccines. We must take steps to prevent these types of lies. ” from spreading further unhindered. “
Disinformation is a calculated attempt to distort and manipulate. Dangerous falsehoods should shape our feelings, our attunements and our reactions.
False claims of stolen elections fueled the flames of anger and suspicion that led to the deadly attack on the Capitol on January 6th. “Here,” our editorial team wrote the next day, “where cynicism and unsupported conspiracy theories lead.”
Make no mistake: they undermine democracy. And they can lead to bloodshed.
It is therefore important that we teach children to sift through the news, look beyond appearances, and ask difficult questions. Where did this story come from? Is the source reputable? Can I verify the information with credible sources? Does history raise red flags on how I feel? Is the material up to date? Does it leave out critical details?
We all have a responsibility to promote media literacy, and House Bill 234 would help pass the necessary skills down to the next generation. We urge the House and Senate to pass it, to take this important step to uphold the truth.