COLORADO SPRINGS — When Russia began invading Ukraine more than a month ago, immediately, factual information began spreading about the events unfolding overseas. But millions of people have also seen misleading, manipulated, or false information.
News5 spoke with a teacher and students at Odyssey Early College and Career Options about this, to see how they're educating students on how to separate fact from fiction. With social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok, high school students are consuming news from just about everywhere.
Christopher Berry is a teacher in the Social Sciences department at the High School. Twice a week, during the first 15 minutes of his class, he and the students spend time on Twitter and go through news stories and headlines.
It's a chance to discuss politics and current events, but it's also an opportunity to teach students that not every story on social media should be taken as true.
The students and teacher have a conversation to point out things like: Who posted the article? Is the information biased or balanced --- based on political party lines? Does it seem legitimate? And if not, can it be fact checked? Can more research be done on the topic? And is the headline misleading?
"We want to talk about the events, but we want to teach them some news literacy, like is this true? Is this something that we can research and see what they're talking about? It's teaching them to look at those headlines and not accept it at face value. Do the research, do the critical thinking, and have good sources and good places to look for information, is what we do," said Berry.
"I think this class definitely opened my eyes to how unreliable a lot of things are and how easily it is to kind of be tricked by things that people post," said Faith Alvey, a 10th grade student at the school. "I think it's just important to understand how to differentiate what's real and what isn't, and what's trustworthy and what isn't, because there is a lot of false news that goes around, and that can really be harmful to someone if they start to trust the wrong things."
Berry also provides his students with a list of different news sources, reporters from different news outlets, and politicians along different party lines. He said it's meant for the students to get all sides of the stories and news they're consuming before having a class discussion.
Fact checkers have reported that images during the Russia invasion of Ukraine have been taken out of context or misrepresented.
Here are some things you can do as a consumer of news to avoid spreading misinformation: Check photos and videos — are they low quality? If so, this may indicate that they're old. Don't hit the share button right away, always check the sources of stories before sharing, make a collection of trusted sources on your Twitter feed, and use fact-checking sites and tools.