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Teach children about fake news to stop them becoming extremists, OECD says

by Евгений Волков -
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Teach children about fake news to stop them becoming extremists, OECD says

A new category to global tests will assess youngsters on how well they can think critically about information diseminated on social media CREDIT: PA

Children must be taught about fake news in schools to stop them from turning to extremism, a major international think-tank has said. 

Under new plans unveiled on Saturday, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), will add a new category to its global tests called "global competency", which will assess youngsters on how well they can think critically about information diseminated on social media, and detect dubious claims. 

The shake-up to the OECD's global test is aimed at preventing students from being brainwashed into believing, for example, that they should travel to Syria to fight for the so-called Islamic State

The move, due to be announced this weekend at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, is significant because governments around the world often use these test results to inform policy.
Distinguishing what is true from what is not true is a critical skill todayAndreas Schleicher, OECD

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's director of education and skills, suggested that social media creates an "echo-chamber" in which users only hear from viewpoints similar to their own. He argued that schools have a role to play in making sure that young people have a chance to debate different views and opinions.

"Social media is designed to create an echo chamber. We are likely to talk with people who are like us. Who think similarly to us. And that's precisely, almost the antithesis, to global competency."

One example, he said, is young people from Europe going to fight for Islamic State, turning "the multi-religious, multi-ethnic powerhouses of the Middle East back to a kind of mono-culture".

"That's really I think an outcome of the thinking that there is only one truth and there's only one way to live.

"I think that social media can reinforce that. The algorithms under-pinning them tend to relate people to people who are similar, rather than creating spaces for people to discuss debate and find common ground."

The five types of fake news
Stories classified as fake news can generally be put into five categories, as experts try to develop a way of warning readers what they may be encountering.

1. Intentionally deceptive
These are news stories created entirely to deceive readers. The 2016 US election was rife with examples claiming that “x celebrity has endorsed Donald Trump”, when that was not the case.

2. Jokes taken at face value
Humour sites such as the Onion or Daily Mash present fake news stories in order to satirise the media. Issues can arise when readers see the story out of context and share it with others.

3. Large-scale hoaxes
Deceptions that are then reported in good faith by reputable news sources. A recent example would be the story that the founder of Corona beer made everyone in his home village a millionaire in his will.

4. Slanted reporting of real facts
Selectively-chosen but truthful elements of a story put together to serve an agenda. One of the most prevalent examples of this is the PR-driven science or nutrition story, such as 'x thing you thought was unhealthy is actually good for you'.

5. Stories where the ‘truth’ is contentious
On issues where ideologies or opinions clash - for example, territorial conflicts - there is sometimes no established baseline for truth. Reporters may be unconsciously partisan, or perceived as such.

Reference: Deception Detection for News, University of Western Ontario

He will announce the OECD's plans to test young people's attitudes to global issues and different cultures, their analytical and critical skills and abilities to interact with others.

"In the past, when you needed information, you went to an encyclopaedia, you looked it up, and you could trust that information to be true," Mr Schleicher said.

He added that today, anyone using social media or even news sites has to be able to assess, evaluate and reflect on the information they are given.

"Distinguishing what is true from what is not true is a critical skill today," he said. "Exposing fake news, even being aware that there is something like fake news, that there is something that is written that is not necessarily true, that you have to question, think critically. That is very important. This is something that we believe schools can do something about."

Pupils can learn about the world, how to analyse what they see and hear around them and engage in debate in lessons.

"Schools can do a lot to equip students with the kind of cognitive ability to access and analyse meaning, culture, practice, things like this," he said.

He added that it is not a matter of schools teaching a new subject, but building these skills into all lessons, from science to history.

The new computer-based "global competencies" tests will be taken by 15-year-olds around the world alongside the OECD's current reading, maths and science assessments which are conducted every three years.

The results of these assessments - and the rankings of around 70 countries and economies based on the results - are seen as important by governments worldwide, including the UK.

Facebook: Fake news problem is 'very small indeed'02:04

The tests are due to be taken next year, with the results published in 2019.

Mr Schleicher said: "This assessment is about the capacity of young people to see the world through different perspectives, appreciate different ideas, be open to different cultures, which is an increasingly important dimension in a more interconnected world - both economically and socially."



Please review our commenting policy
Charles Turner 21 Mar 2017 12:02AM


The problem is that the vast majority of the main stream media is fake in different degrees. Proper journalism takes time and money. A story has to be investigated, facts have to be checked, sources verified and then the story written up in an impartial manner. Look at most of the articles in the last few days in the Telegraph and see which ones past that muster.

 Instead news has to be instant, there isn't time to fact check it, it is just got out there and the 'news' is just embellished with the writers opinions.  

IVAN NOBLE 18 Mar 2017 12:36PM

We should be teaching our children about the harm cultural marxism is doing them and our country . But the Telegraph would not like that as it promotes and supports it .

Divad Releehw 18 Mar 2017 11:54AM

Yes, but which is the fake bit? How do you recognise it? I recommend that children be encouraged to think for themselves, especially when reading newspaper stories or watching the TV News 'shows'. Short of closing down Twitter and Facebook, there is little that can be done to stop people writing nonsense, but we are not forced to believe it - yet!

James Newbound 18 Mar 2017 10:20AM

When I was at school studying A level politics I remember us trying to guess which political party our teacher sided with as he refused to say as he wanted to be impartial. Nowadays you won't even get on the teaching training course unless your a full on and open libtard.

I also remember my geography teacher banging on about acid rain and the o zone layer. What ever happened to those old chestnuts barely get a whisper these days.

Deirdre Bowen 18 Mar 2017 7:19AM


Schools are being used as political instruments rather than educational institutions. Besides giving pupils an education in skills which will enable them to get good jobs or go into higher education the curriculum is being hijacked by.....gender equality.sex education, discrimination laws, climate change, left wing liberalism and the rest of the political agenda. Now 'fake news' is on the agenda. For goodness sakes, our schools are here to teach skills, not to indoctrinate,

Paul Ericson 18 Mar 2017 4:49AM

Fake news ... we get that all the time, more by omission of that we would like to be informed of, than direct lies, although the Arab Spring/Syrian War and the migrant crisis are definitely slanted or deliberately mis-reported.

Definitely the public are a lot more 'media-wise' now ... as evidenced by those who re-visit the Yugoslav civil war and the highly selective reporting of events and consequences.

damask rose 18 Mar 2017 4:21AM


One of the first areas they would need to apply their newly acquired critical thinking skills to would be to teachers themselves.

They need to realize the difference between assumptions, opinions, - and proven reality. They need to question attitudes, and why people adopt them.

Gary Hirsch 18 Mar 2017 3:36AM

They at right, but they talk as if it is some kind of recent phenomenon. Letting other people do your thinking for you has been going on throughout history, and has been responsible for the greatest crimes and injustices.
Keila Cook 18 Mar 2017 3:22AM

In reality all news against the establishment will be classed as ''fake news'' and by ''extremists'' they mean anyone who loves their own country and being patriotic. Thank God we are finally leaving the corrupt, evil EU dictatorship. The education system in this country is completely under control of the nazi EU  right now.

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