Even as we argue that we need stronger laws to control online political ads and to corral the worst online trolls, we also need to do a better job of teaching ourselves to be intelligent consumers of digital news.
We need to teach children, for example, how to consume information, beginning with the question of where a news item originates and who is behind it.
The government in Italy already is trying to do just that, according to the New York Times. Students are taught not to share unverified news, to check for sources and evidence and to be wary of social media manipulation. They are shown how their “likes” on Facebook can become political fodder or used for profit by businesses.
Americans should consider taking a page from that lesson book.
Even if the U.S. government and the giant online companies are successful in reducing the flood of fake news that permeates the internet, the fetid spigot can never be shut off entirely. Consumers will have to learn to carefully judge what they see and what they read online.
Rumor has always spread faster than fact. The online world has accelerated that imbalance. Those who venture into that world need to learn how to be wary.
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