Poynter groups with AARP, Fb to assist seniors combat misinformation


Social media helps misinformation unfold like wildfire so as an alternative of contributing to ‘faux information,’ there are methods you possibly can validate info on-line.


They’re calling it an “infodemic.”

The intersection of misinformation and the coronavirus pandemic is a severe threat for People who battle to kind truth from fiction on-line, the place lies in regards to the nature of the disaster have flourished.

However it’s particularly regarding for older People, who consultants say are on the highest threat of falling prey to on-line lies and who face the very best threat of dying from COVID-19.

That demographic is the goal of a brand new initiative designed by the journalism nonprofit Poynter Institute to assist People decipher the details on-line.

MediaWise, which beforehand targeted totally on youngsters, is launching a program to equip individuals 50 and older with the abilities to navigate misinformation about politics, well being and different essential subjects.

AARP has signed on to advertise the MediaWise for Seniors marketing campaign to its almost 37 million members, whereas Fb is offering an undisclosed quantity of funding and has agreed to advertise the group’s on-line coaching classes on its platform.

“When people share misleading or inaccurate information, it can have real-world consequences – and I’m talking about life or death now,” mentioned Katy Byron, editor and program supervisor of MediaWise. “That’s something we’ve talked about in the past, but coronavirus really crystallized what our project mission is all about.”

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MediaWise’s curriculum relies on three questions developed by the Stanford Historical past Schooling Group primarily based on the habits {of professional} fact-checkers:

1)    Who’s behind the knowledge?

2)    What’s the proof?

3)    What do different sources say?

To unfold the phrase about its initiatives, MediaWise has attracted a variety of high-profile journalists. Latest additions have included Christiane Amanpour, chief worldwide anchor for CNN and host of “Amanpour & Company” on PBS, and Joan Lunden, a former “Good Morning America” anchor who not too long ago revealed the ebook “Why Did I Come into This Room? A Candid Conversation About Aging.”

“I look forward to working with the MediaWise team to bring international awareness to this project, as online misinformation is a dangerous and even life-threatening problem around the world,” Amanpour said in a statement.

Lunden said seniors are digitally wired but often need help identifying the truth online.

“It’s fair to say we want to give them the skills of a journalist,” Lunden mentioned in an interview. “So when they look at any kind of article, they’ll stop and ask themselves, who’s behind this information, is there evidence to support what this article is saying, and can you verify it?”

Those questions will be central to the free training sessions provided digitally and, when safe, in-person by AARP volunteers and on Facebook by MediaWise’s team.

“Older Americans weren’t born online, but by arming ourselves with information and media literacy skills, we’re showing scammers we weren’t born yesterday, either,” AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said in a statement provided to USA TODAY.

For Fb, the choice to again MediaWise comes as the corporate continues to face strain for the function of its platform in frightening America’s disaster of on-line misinformation.

Several civil rights and other advocacy groups are calling on large advertisers to stop Facebook ad campaigns during July because they say the social network isn’t doing enough to curtail racist, violent and false content on its platform. Multiple brands have reportedly already signed on, including North Face and Patagonia. 

Facebook agreed to fund the MediaWise campaign before the launch of the “#StopHateforProfit” campaign, which includes the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color Of Change, Free Press and Common Sense.

“It is clear that Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, are no longer simply negligent, but in fact, complacent in the spread of misinformation, despite the irreversible damage to our democracy. Such actions will upend the integrity of our elections as we head into 2020,” NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson said last week in a statement.

Zuckerberg has vowed to crack down on harmful falsehoods whereas additionally not too long ago saying tech firms shouldn’t be the “arbiters of truth.”

With the 2020 presidential election fewer than 5 months away, Zuckerberg introduced final week in a USA TODAY op-ed that the corporate is launching an internet marketing campaign to register four million People to vote. (USA TODAY is a part of Fb’s third-party fact-checking program.)

“Part of that is helping people spot election misinformation for themselves,” Kevin Martin, Facebook’s vice president of U.S. public policy, said in a statement to USA TODAY for this story. “We’re excited to build on our partnership with Poynter’s MediaWise Project to expand the program from teens and first-time voters to reach seniors with these important skills.”

Older Americans are particularly vulnerable to digital misinformation about politics and health because they did not grow up using the internet to navigate the world around them, Byron said. She emphasized that MediaWise is nonpartisan.

Kristyn Wellesley, editorial director of MediaWise and a former content analyst for USA TODAY, said that defeating misinformation will require a multifaceted approach, including efforts by social media platforms to root out falsehoods, efforts by professional checkers at news outlets, and educational initiatives.

“It’s going to take everybody coming together and saying we don’t want bad actors being involved in our information,” she said.

The reality is that everyone, not just seniors, needs to be vigilant about protecting themselves from digital misinformation, Byron said.

“Our best advice when there’s a breaking situation is, check multiple sources,” she said. “Go the extra mile and get that additional context. … Think about what you’re reading, what you’re seeing. Do you want to share this with your network, do you know if it’s accurate, is it real? It’s a really hard habit to break.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

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