Google is expanding its “Be Internet Awesome” program to help children spot “fake news” and disinformation online.
As part of its “Be Internet Awesome” project, Google will soon be helping children to spot “fake news” and disinformation online, according to TechCrunch. The company is launching six media literacy activities as part of the new initiative which aims to teach children how to avoid phishing attacks, explain what bots are, verify that online information is credible, spot fake URLs, and evaluate sources.
The new classes were developed by Anne Collier, the executive director of The Net Safety Collaborative, alongside Faith Rogow, Ph.D., the co-author of The Teacher’s Guide to Media Literacy and a co-founder of the National Association for Media Literacy Education. Teachmama.com founder Amy Mascott stated in an announcement on Google’s blog today:
We need the right tools and resources to help kids make the most of technology, and while good digital safety and citizenship resources exist for families, more can be done for media literacy. I’ve worked alongside dozens of educators who believe that media literacy is essential to safety and citizenship in the digital age, but agree that it’s a topic that can be tough to cover.
The aim of the course is reportedly to help children develop critical thinking skills and learn that the information they read online is not always true. Children will learn about phishing, a process where hackers attempt to trick people into handing over their personal data. They will be taught anti-phishing skills by reaction to suspicious online texts, posts, friend requests, and emails.
Children will also be taught how to differentiate between a human talking to them and an A.I. bot online. Kids will also learn about what Google considers to be credible sources and how to figure out what a source’s motives are, they will also be told that “just because a person is an expert on one thing doesn’t make them an expert on everything.”
The curriculum also states “There are a lot of people and groups who are so passionate about what they believe that they twist the truth to get us to agree with them. When the twisted information is disguised as a news story, that’s disinformation.” The course also looks at methods used by various sites such as misleading photos or clickbait titles which are used to make people curious of the contents of the article.
According to Google, the goal of the course is to make children question all news and information, not just sites they think are suspicious. Google has partnered with the YMCA and National PTA across many cities to host online safety workshops.
Google executive Jen Gennai was captured on undercover video by Project Veritas claiming the company will change its products and services to stop another “Trump situation,” it isn’t yet clear to what extent the company’s mission to educate children will take that goal to heart.