Jerry Brown Signs Law to Teach Students About ‘Fake News’

Jerry Brown (Alex Wong / Getty)
Alex Wong / Getty

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill last week that requires California students to be taught about “fake news” and how to avoid it.

The bill, SB 830, was introduced by State Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) as a response to the 2016 presidential election, which the left partially explains in terms of the proliferation of “fake news” on social media platforms (and interference by Russian hackers, among other explanations).

The bill’s preamble complains:

During the final, critical months of the 2016 presidential campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax Internet Web sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on social media; where, within the same time period, the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news Internet Web sites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.

It also cites recent reports that “Two out of every three adults say fabricated news stories cause a great deal of confusion about the basic facts of current issues and events” and “A recent Stanford University study showed that 82 percent of middle school pupils struggled to distinguish advertisements from news stories.”

Accordingly, the bill requires “the State Department of Education to make available to school districts on its Internet Web site a list of resources and instructional materials on media literacy, as defined, including media literacy professional development programs for teachers.”

The bill defines “media literacy” as “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and use media and encompasses the foundational skills that lead to digital citizenship.”

Other, similar legislation has been proposed. In February, State Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) proposed a bill to require websites to use “fact-checkers.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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