Debunking anti-vaxxer RFK Jr.’s declare about ‘suspicious’ coronavirus vaccine deaths, a phony Elon Musk tweet and a lot more information literacy lessons

This is the latest installment of a weekly feature on this site — classes from the nonprofit Information Literacy Job, which aims to teach students how to distinguish concerning what is authentic 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 in the course of “A Celebration of Henry Louis Aaron,” a memorial provider celebrating the daily 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 through AP Pool)

The material comes from the project’s publication, the Sift, which can take the most the latest viral rumors, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and journalistic ethics issues and turns them into well timed lessons with discussion prompts and back links. The Sift, which is published weekly throughout the university calendar year, has additional than 10,000 subscribers, most of them educators.


The News Literacy Task also provides a program named Checkology, a browser-centered system developed for students in grades six as a result of 12 that allows get ready the upcoming era to conveniently discover misinformation. Checkology is available absolutely free to educators, learners, faculty districts and parents. Since 2016, far more than 29,000 educators and mothers and fathers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., have registered to use the system. Given that August, more than 1,000 educators and dad and mom, and additional than 34,000 pupils, have made use of Checkology.

You can understand more about the News Literacy Venture and all of the educational sources it offers in this piece, but in this article is a rundown:

Launched far more than a decade in the past by Alan Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning previous reporter at the Los Angeles Periods, the News Literacy Challenge is the foremost supplier of news literacy training.

It generates electronic curriculums and other methods, and it works with educators and journalists to teach center school and substantial college pupils how to understand news and information and facts to rely on — and it delivers them with the instruments they require to be informed and engaged individuals in a democracy. It makes use of the criteria of significant-quality journalism as an aspirational yardstick versus which to measure all news and data. Just as essential, it delivers the subsequent generation with an appreciation of the Very first Amendment and the part of a absolutely free press.

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

Viral rumor rundown

graphical user interface, text: (News Literacy Project)

(Information Literacy Challenge)

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

Of course: Aaron died of natural leads to at the age of 86 on Jan. 22 — far more than two months after acquiring the vaccine on Jan. 5.

NO: There has not been “a wave of suspicious deaths among elderly” men and women who not too long ago obtained a vaccine, as this write-up from anti-vaccination activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. statements.

Yes: Norway has registered 33 deaths since the finish of December among the folks age 75 and around who received one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

NO: Norway well being officials observed no proof of a immediate website link involving the deaths and the vaccine.

Sure: In Norway, about 45 people die every day in nursing homes.

Be aware: Quite a few vaccination packages close to the environment are prioritizing susceptible populations, specially elderly people today in assisted-residing services, several of whom have really serious diseases. This team has better mortality prices than other sectors of the population. As this age cohort is vaccinated, it is inescapable that some fatalities will happen close to the very same time as vaccinations.

Also observe: Ladies — especially individuals who are expecting or lactating — are remaining qualified with unsafe misinformation by anti-vaccination communities on the net.


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

(News Literacy Job)

NO: The Planet Wellness Group did not update its recommendations and say that “you do not need to use a mask.”

Of course: This is a total fabrication falsely declaring the statements have been manufactured by WHO officers at a Jan. 22 information meeting.

Notice: This fake claim initial appeared as an unsupported assertion in a limited entry on a WordPress website with a background of building unsubstantiated claims.

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

(News Literacy Project)

(News Literacy Project)

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

Certainly: It is a fabricated screenshot of a bogus tweet that was posted to r/WallStreetBets, the Reddit forum that aided push up the cost of GameStop stock in an endeavor to execute a “short squeeze.”

Sure: Musk did energize the r/WallStreetBets Reddit web page when he tweeted the word “Gamestonk,” referencing an World-wide-web meme, on Jan. 26.

Tip: Since they really don’t exist in a Twitter user’s real feed, phony tweets circulate as screenshots, often together with the declare that they ended up deleted. Despite the fact that screenshots of reliable tweets that have due to the fact been deleted do often go viral, they are really typically saved to an authoritative Net archive, this sort of as the Net Archive’s Wayback Device. Phony tweets are also generally captured by unique Twitter users at distinct periods in distinctive time zones, manufacturing screenshots with distinct time stamps and engagement metrics (retweets, estimate tweets and likes). Because bogus tweets are commonly copies of a single artificially created image, the engagement metrics are the same.

*Sift Picks

Fast Picks

“Trump Taught Academics Conspiracy Theories. Now They’re Training Them To College students.” (Julia Reinstein, BuzzFeed Information)

  • Explore: Are teachers immune to misinformation? How does misinformation gasoline “pseudo-controversies”? How should really pseudo-controversies be managed by academics in faculty?
  • Thought: Have learners research pseudo-controversies — this kind of as vaccine basic safety, local weather modify or the integrity of the 2020 presidential election — that occur in faculty configurations. Then compile a record and talk to students to explore their experiences in classroom options with these topics. Have they ever experienced a instructor who presented a pseudo-controversy as a authentic discussion? What took place?
Carry on Examining