Debunking anti-vaxxer RFK Jr.’s assert about ‘suspicious’ coronavirus vaccine fatalities, a phony Elon Musk tweet and much more news literacy classes

This is the newest installment of a weekly feature on this blog site — classes from the nonprofit News Literacy Project, which aims to educate college students how to distinguish amongst what is real and what is not in this age of electronic communication.

a statue of Terry McGuirk, Hank Aaron standing in front of a building: Atlanta Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk speaks during “A Celebration of Henry Louis Aaron,” a memorial service celebrating the life and enduring legacy of the late Hall of Famer and American icon, on Jan. 26 at Truist Park in Atlanta. (Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves via AP Pool)

© Kevin D. Liles/AP
Atlanta Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk speaks through “A Celebration of Henry Louis Aaron,” a memorial assistance celebrating the lifestyle and enduring legacy of the late Hall of Famer and American icon, on Jan. 26 at Truist Park in Atlanta. (Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves through AP Pool)

The materials comes from the project’s newsletter, the Sift, which normally takes the most current viral rumors, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and journalistic ethics issues and turns them into timely classes with dialogue prompts and backlinks. The Sift, which is posted weekly all through the faculty yr, has much more than 10,000 subscribers, most of them educators.


The Information Literacy Undertaking also gives a application called Checkology, a browser-centered platform made for college students in grades six through 12 that aids prepare the up coming technology to simply discover misinformation. Checkology is obtainable absolutely free to educators, learners, school districts and mothers and fathers. Since 2016, additional than 29,000 educators and dad and mom in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., have registered to use the system. Considering that August, a lot more than 1,000 educators and mom and dad, and more than 34,000 pupils, have used Checkology.

You can learn extra about the Information Literacy Project and all of the instructional assets it supplies in this piece, but here is a rundown:

Founded additional than a 10 years ago by Alan Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-successful former reporter at the Los Angeles Instances, the News Literacy Job is the main service provider of news literacy education.

It creates digital curriculums and other methods, and it works with educators and journalists to educate middle college and substantial college students how to understand information and information and facts to belief — and it offers them with the resources they have to have to be educated and engaged individuals in a democracy. It makes use of the standards of high-high quality journalism as an aspirational yardstick against which to evaluate all information and info. Just as important, it provides the following technology with an appreciation of the Initial Modification and the position of a totally free press.

Here’s product from the Feb 1. edition of The Sift:

Viral rumor rundown

graphical user interface, text: (News Literacy Project)

(News Literacy Project)

NO: Baseball icon and civil legal rights activist Hank Aaron did not die as a consequence of getting the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.

Sure: Aaron died of normal brings about at the age of 86 on Jan. 22 — a lot more than two weeks immediately after obtaining the vaccine on Jan. 5.

NO: There has not been “a wave of suspicious fatalities between elderly” people today who lately received a vaccine, as this submit from anti-vaccination activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. promises.

Indeed: Norway has registered 33 fatalities due to the fact the close of December among men and women age 75 and about who received one particular dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

NO: Norway wellbeing officers located no evidence of a immediate connection amongst the deaths and the vaccine.

Of course: In Norway, about 45 folks die each day in nursing houses.

Take note: Quite a few vaccination courses all over the world are prioritizing vulnerable populations, primarily elderly people in assisted-dwelling facilities, a lot of of whom have serious illnesses. This team has increased mortality premiums than other sectors of the population. As this age cohort is vaccinated, it is inevitable that some fatalities will occur all over the same time as vaccinations.

Also observe: Gals — specially those who are expecting or lactating — are staying qualified with risky misinformation by anti-vaccination communities on line.


graphical user interface, text, application: (News Literacy Project)

(Information Literacy Job)

NO: The Earth Overall health Business did not update its suggestions and say that “you do not need to wear a mask.”

Yes: This is a total fabrication falsely declaring the statements were being made by WHO officers at a Jan. 22 information convention.

Note: This wrong claim initially appeared as an unsupported statement in a shorter entry on a WordPress website with a record of building unsubstantiated claims.

Connected: “The Perils of Pandemic Doomsaying (and Other Covid Messaging Combine-Ups)” (On the Media, WNYC)

(News Literacy Project)

(News Literacy Challenge)

NO: This is not an authentic tweet from SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Indeed: It is a fabricated screenshot of a bogus tweet that was posted to r/WallStreetBets, the Reddit forum that helped drive up the cost of GameStop inventory in an attempt to execute a “short squeeze.”

Indeed: Musk did energize the r/WallStreetBets Reddit web site when he tweeted the term “Gamestonk,” referencing an Net meme, on Jan. 26.

Tip: Mainly because they don’t exist in a Twitter user’s actual feed, fake tweets circulate as screenshots, often together with the declare that they ended up deleted. Despite the fact that screenshots of genuine tweets that have considering the fact that been deleted do from time to time go viral, they are incredibly generally saved to an authoritative World wide web archive, this sort of as the Net Archive’s Wayback Equipment. Pretend tweets are also ordinarily captured by distinct Twitter buyers at various situations in diverse time zones, developing screenshots with unique time stamps and engagement metrics (retweets, quotation tweets and likes). Simply because phony tweets are typically copies of one particular artificially generated graphic, the engagement metrics are the exact.

*Sift Picks

Quick Picks

“Trump Taught Teachers Conspiracy Theories. Now They’re Teaching Them To Learners.” (Julia Reinstein, BuzzFeed Information)

  • Talk about: Are instructors immune to misinformation? How does misinformation gas “pseudo-controversies”? How ought to pseudo-controversies be managed by lecturers in faculty?
  • Plan: Have students investigate pseudo-controversies — these kinds of as vaccine security, local climate improve or the integrity of the 2020 presidential election — that come up in school settings. Then compile a checklist and request pupils to explore their activities in classroom settings with these subject areas. Have they ever experienced a instructor who presented a pseudo-controversy as a legit debate? What took place?
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