New campaign teaches internet users to verify before sharing

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 5:32 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - In these pandemic days when misinformation can be deadly, the Poynter Institute is implementing a program for the most vulnerable population to COVID-19: older Americans.

“Basically we are trying to educate as many older Americans as we possibly can on how to think like a fact-checker before sharing something online,” said Alex Mahadevan with Poynter.

The program called MediaWise was created and has participated in partnerships with the Stanford History Education Group and Politifact, bringing media literacy programs to all. However, right now, Mahadevan says Americans 50 years and older are the target audience.

“Anecdotally, this is a demographic that I’ve heard a lot from teachers and librarians that there is a need there for this type of media literacy education with the 50-plus crowd,” said Mahadevan.

The necessity doesn’t arise simply from a lack of education currently, but also because of how important this group of people is to the U.S. democracy.

“This is an extremely civically-minded demographic that are more likely to vote than any other demographic,” Mahadevan said. “They are great citizens in general, so we want to make sure they are great digital citizens as well.”

Furthermore, as a COVID-19 diagnosis proves itself to be more dangerous and deadly to older Americans, Mahadevan says fact-checking becomes crucial.

“With a lot of the health misinformation we’ve seen out there, this can be a matter of life and death for vulnerable populations like the 50-plus demographic,” said Mahadevan.

MediaWise employs video lessons on fact-checking, advice for how to assess a reliable source, and everything to consider before sharing information online.

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