Help Students Fight Misinformation Around the Capitol Insurrection

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People interacting with a social media post that is spreading misinformation
Social media is a place where misinformation easily spreads. (Copyright © 2020 KQED Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

The deadly insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 left no doubt about the destructive impact of misinformation and disinformation on democracy. Repeated lies questioning Joe Biden’s election defeat of President Donald Trump, including from the president himself and a group of GOP senators and representatives, served as a rallying cry for the Capitol mob. These baseless claims led to “incitement to insurrection,” a central pillar of the articles of impeachment against Trump. The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump on January 13, one week after the insurrection took place. Trump is the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. 

How can educators equip students with the tools to fight misinformation and disinformation, and evaluate what they hear from politicians, news outlets, public officials and social media influencers?

KQED’s Above the Noise helps students make sense of these vital media literacy topics. Episodes can be found on the Above the Noise YouTube channel. Or invite your students to view the videos and discuss the issues with peers around the country with KQED Learn Discussions, where you’ll find classroom resources to support in-person, hybrid or remote learning.

Conspiracy theories can be dangerous, as recent events show. But they’re nothing new. This video, Are Conspiracy Theories Harmless Fun, a Serious Problem or Something in Between? doesn’t address specific political conspiracy theories. Instead, it helps students analyze how a conspiracy theory takes root and suggests ways to combat its spread.

Help students understand and challenge confirmation bias with What Would It Take to Change Your Mind About Something You Really Believed?

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False Equivalency--Are There Some Issues That Don’t Merit a “Both Sides” Approach? unpacks the problem of applying two sides to certain issues, which sometimes leads to spreading misinformation.

It’s been almost a year since the Covid-19 pandemic started, yet misinformation about the disease, how it spreads and how to prevent it is still widespread. Fact or Fiction: How to Spot Covid-19 Misinformation will help students find the facts and practice analysis skills that apply to other issues.

Many of our students love YouTube. Use the episode How Much Can We Trust YouTube for Reliable Information? to spark discussion and reflection about algorithms and filter bubbles.

Speaking of Youtube (and Instagram and TikTok), social media influencers aren’t journalists, but they often hold sway over millions of followers, including our students. Can We Trust Social Media Influencers? pulls back the curtain on social media influencing.

Explore other episodes on issues related to freedom of speech, protesting and engaging in the democratic process. Check out:

The news cycle may not always be this challenging (we hope)! But students will always need the skills to evaluate news sources, analyze where they find information, and be aware of their own biases.