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Italy Is Teaching Students How To Spot Fake News

“Fake news drips drops of poison into our daily web diet and we end up infected without even realizing it.”

A new Politico poll just confirmed that nearly half of voters surveyed — a whopping 46% — think the media makes up stories about the president, while just 37% believe they do not. Meanwhile, actual fabricated articles and online hoaxes have had a negative impact on how Americans view the media and their public officials. While companies like Facebook have promised to do a better job of filtering out fake news stories from the masses, Italy is taking a more ambitious step.

Starting later this month, the Italian government will be rolling out a program to 8,000 high schools across the country that teaches students how to deal with fake news. In addition to training students how to identify fabricated stories, Italian journalists from national broadcaster RAI will also contribute to lessons on how not to disseminate fake news and conspiracy theories, how to demand evidence from those sharing questionable sources, and to always remember things on the web can be manipulated. Italian officials hope the lesson plans will serve as a defense against fabricated information that can be weaponized to sway elections and undermine democratic norms.

“Fake news drips drops of poison into our daily web diet and we end up infected without even realizing it,” Laura Boldrini, the president of the Italian lower house of Parliament, told The New York Times. “It’s only right to give these kids the possibility to defend themselves from lies.”

Italy isn’t the only one attempting to fight the rise of fake news. Members at the 70th National Newspaper Convention, hosted by the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association, recently adopted a resolution that papers will “contribute to people living safely and with peace of mind, and aim to realise a free and peaceful society, through free speech and a free press.” Children’s book giant Scholastic created a primer on how to spot made-up articles, and even Pope Francis has announced he will take on the topic, giving a speech on “Fake news and journalism for peace” for World Communications Day 2018.

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