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Misinformation and Media Literacy: Videos

Videos - Class Activity

Watch one or more of these short (5 min or less) videos with your students, then use the Prompt Questions to facilitate a class discussion. 
Note: A few of these videos are older but the content and questions are still highly relevant.

The feedback loop of social media | 60 Minutes

Published on Nov. 6, 2022: "The co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology tells Bill Whitaker social media companies are profiting off Americans’ online anger."

  • Harris uses terms like “outrage machine” and “fun house mirror” when describing social media. What do you think he means by that?
  • Would you ever consider stopping your use of social media? Would there be any benefit to doing so? If so, to whom – just you, or society at large?
  • Why do social media users often encounter content that resonates with their beliefs and perspectives when consuming content through social media sites? What role do algorithms play in this?
  • How could a democratic society realistically regulate the current business model of social media as Harris suggests? What role could you as a voting citizen play in this?
  • Should content like hate speech and fake/misleading news be filtered out from social media? If so, how do you think this could be accomplished? Should the decision process involve mostly people? Should it be mostly computer-automated? A mix?
  • What steps might social media users take to ensure they are exposed to diverse viewpoints in their social media feeds? Is exposure to different perspectives something you want from your social media experience? Explain.

Interested in the rest of this story? Click here to watch!

How CNN geolocates and verifies social media footage from Ukraine | CNN

When you click the video image below you'll be taken to the CNN website. Scroll down a bit, then you'll see the actual video that you can click to play.  

Published on Feb. 28, 2022: "CNN’s investigative team has been monitoring the constant stream of information from social media by using several tools to filter through the noise and select relevant videos for our coverage to geolocate and verify."

  • Have you ever used the technique of reverse image searching? If so, what did you reverse-image-search and why? What were you hoping to find out? 
  • Why is it important for a news outlet to verify footage like this? What is at stake if they don’t? 
  • Are you familiar with the term “independently verified”? What do you think it means when a news outlet claims they have “independently verified” something? 
  • If you know that something (ie. video footage, a claim or a quote) had been independently verified by a news outlet, in what way might that change your level of trust in that news outlet?

Do Americans trust the news media? | Pew Research

Published on Jan 5, 2022: "The news media industry has gone through a lot of changes in the past 10 to 20 years that have impacted the way news is both produced and consumed. Our researchers discuss the effects of these changes on how Americans trust the news media and assess news and information, including the role of partisanship, misinformation and representation."

  • How would you rate your current level of trust in the news media? Has that level of trust changed over time? If so, how? What has caused it to change?
  • What are your trusted sources of news? Why do you trust them?
  • Do you think it’s important to distinguish between a news source and the larger entity/company that owns that new source? (Ex. CNN is a news source, but they are owned by Turner Broadcasting System) Might that affect how much trust someone has in the news source itself? Why do you think that is? Do you agree? Disagree?
  • Do you feel a personal connection with local news? What do you think is the role of local media in your community?
  • How important to you is coverage of local news? What difference could it make if local news does not get adequately covered? 
  • Should local news be covered by local news outlets (as opposed to large news corporations)? Why or why not? 
  • Have you ever spoken to or been interviewed by a journalist or reporter? If you had the opportunity to do so, would you? If so, what issue would you want to be asked about?  

Scott Pelley: The Most Important, Underreported News Story | LSSC

Published on May 18, 2019: "'Truth Worth Telling' author Scott Pelley says that the story a news program leads with isn't necessarily the most important thing that happened that day."

Feel free to stop the video at the 7:00 mark.

  • If you listen carefully, you’ll notice that Pelley uses the term “disinformation” while Colbert uses the term “misinformation.” Do you think there's a difference? Could the two terms be used interchangeably? Should they?
  • “I think the biggest danger to a democracy is poisoning the information.”
    Pelley makes an interesting analogy: he likens information to food in the sense that it can be ‘poisoned.’ Have you ever thought of information as ‘food’? Is this a fair or accurate analogy? Why or why not? Explain.
  • Pelley urges the audience (and, by default, the general public) not only to be skeptical but to “…go to brand names that they can trust.”
    What do you think he means by that?
    What are your trusted brand names in news? Not really sure? Take a look at Vanessa Otero’s “Media Bias Chart.” Focus on the sources in the top third of the chart. Do you see any news sources you recognize? Ones you don’t recognize?
    What does it mean that those sources have been placed towards the top? How did they get there?
  • Pelley asserts, “There are enormous consequences for them [trained journalists] if they get something wrong.”
    What do you think those consequences are?
    Do those consequences affect only the journalist? The news outlet? Both?
    Are these consequences just short-term?
    Could these consequences impact you? The general public? If so, how?
  • Pelley laments that many do not take the responsibility of cross-checking potentially false news stories against other reliable news sources seriously. Why do you think people do not do this?
    Should we even have to do it? Shouldn’t all news be accurate and reliable?
  • Pelley states, “The founders were counting on us to be active, proactive citizens of this country.” Who are these “founders” to which Pelley refers? Do you agree with his statement? Do you think the founders could have envisioned a world like today?

Here's how you can spot coronavirus fake news stories | ITV News

Published on April 1, 2020: "'Here's how you can spot coronavirus fake news stories."

  • Do you think the spread of medical misinformation is a serious problem? If so, how serious?  
  • Have you, or has anyone you know, ever been affected by medical misinformation spread online?
  • Should people have the right to share false “opinions” about health and medical matters? Could this be dangerous? Does the right to free speech outweigh the potential dangers?
  • How should social media platforms handle medical misinformation?

Bill Gates on the good news about fake news | Quartz

Published on January 30, 2018: "In an age of "fake news" and increasing polarization, Bill Gates sees big problems with the "filter bubbles" that impact how people get and process their information. But he also thinks those problems might actually be self-correcting."

  • Gates brings up what he calls “fragmentation challenges.” Do you agree with Gates that the positives of today’s modern digital communication outweigh the negatives? Explain your answer.
  • Gates says “…most people…still want to know the facts” and will therefore seek out a “common set of understandings.” Do you agree? Disagree? Discuss!
  • He goes on to state that because most people want to know the facts, the issues of people living in these filter bubbles are self-correcting. Do you agree? Disagree? Discuss!

The Appeal of Conspiracy Theories | Lifehacker

Published on Apr 24, 2017: "Why do people believe so strongly in conspiracy theories? The answer is more psychological than you think."

  • Are “conspiracy theories” and “fake news” the same thing? What is their relationship to one another?
  • Conspiracy theories have always been around but one could argue the problem is now more pervasive than ever before. What role has today’s technology played regarding the spread of conspiracy theories?
  • Think back to a time when you were proven wrong about something. Maybe you lost a bet or misunderstood a crucial set of instructions. Did you freely admit it, or did you keep quiet? Were you publicly “outed” by others? At any point, were you ever tempted to “hold your ground” on your initial incorrect point of view? Why or why not?
  • Do you think it’s possible to turn off our confirmation bias? How can we control it?

How ‘Deepfake’ Videos Are Manipulating People Online | TODAY

Published on May 3, 2019: "The so-called “deepfakes,” or fake videos altered to look incredibly real, are surfacing online by people determined to spread fake news, influence elections and create tensions."

5 tips to spot misinformation and prevent its spread | Washington Post

Published on September 2, 2021: "It can be difficult to tell the difference between credible news and misinformation — and in some ways, our brains are contributing to the problem. According to psychologist Nadia Brashier, when we hear information repeatedly, we’re more likely to believe it is true, even when it’s not. As misinformation proliferates on all of our newsfeeds, it can be difficult to tell if what we’re reading is accurate. Host Nicole Ellis spoke with experts to identify ways to spot misinformation and help prevent it from spreading."

How to protect yourself in the infodemic? | World Health Organization

Published on June 27, 2020: "Sharing unverified information during the COVID-19 pandemic can be dangerous, unhealthy, and make our life more confusing. Watch the video for the simple actions we can all take on how to identify false information, verify trusted sources, and help ourselves and loved ones to stay safe."

  • What two words do you think were combined to form the word "infodemic"? How is this term appropriate?
  • What are the parallels between how a virus spreads and how misinformation spreads?  
  • What are possible health impacts - both physical and psychological - of an "infodemic"?
  • In the second half, the narrator mentions 5 steps to help minimize the spread of false information. Which one do you think is the most useful and helpful?  
  • The narrator suggests that we "correct or call out people on our social networks when they post something untrue."
    • How might we do that in a way that does not backfire or trigger a defensive response?
    • Would a private message be best, or a post in the comments for others to see? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach?

Study: Most Students Cannot Distinguish Fake and Real News | Wall Street Journal

Published on Nov 22, 2016: "Do children's digital fluency allow them to distinguish between fake news and real news online? WSJ's Sue Shellenbarger has surprising results of a study of nearly 8,000 students (from grammar school through college) that tested their ability to tell news from ads and to discern websites from hate groups and mainstream professional organizations."

  • Have you ever read a story on social media that scared or shocked you? How did you react? Reflect back on that experience. Does what you read still scare you, or did you learn later on that it wasn’t anything to worry about? If your feelings about that story changed, how and why do you think they changed?
  • Shellenbarger cites a statistic from Media Insight Project that states that by the age of 18, 88% of young adults are getting their news from Facebook. While you may not currently use Facebook, are you getting your news from some form of social media? Be honest! What are some other, more credible and reputable news sources that you can consult to double-check a story? (Not sure? Check out this link:
    http://libraryhelp.sfcc.edu/fakenews/evaluating.)
  • What steps does Shellenbarger recommend that parents take to teach their children to critically evaluate sources of news? Could these recommendations be good for everyone? If you could tweak or adjust her recommendations for you and your peer-group, what adjustments, if any, would you make?

Trevor Noah on fake news and Donald Trump (HARDtalk) - BBC News

Published on Dec 14, 2016: "Trevor Noah, host of the Daily Show, has told BBC Hardtalk’s Zeinab Badawi that factual accuracy is the base of his best jokes."

  • Noah says, “The best jokes are based in truth.” Drawing from what you have learned in introductory psychology or sociology (and other) courses, would you agree or disagree?
  • Do you think it’s possible, or advisable, to operate in a space that, as Noah explains, “…is completely neutral, devoid of all opinion, and giving everybody an equal platform to share their views”?

There are 2 ways the media covers mass shootings. Here's why the difference matters | NPR

Aired on June 14, 2022: "What is the role of journalists when covering America's mass shooting crisis, and how can they responsibly report on tragedies like the recent shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo and Tulsa? Those are complicated but crucial questions to answer, says Dannagal Young, a University of Delaware professor who studies the impact that news stories have on the public."

"Short, episodic news frames are those that apply a telephoto lens to the coverage of the issue – focusing on individual case studies and discrete events. In contrast, thematic news frames are those that apply a wide-angle lens to the coverage of the issue – focusing on trends over time, and highlighting contexts and environments. An episodic frame presents a portrait, while a thematic frame pulls the camera back to present a landscape." - From: https://www.frameworksinstitute.org/article/episodic-vs-thematic-stories/ 

  • When covering major news stories, which "news frame" do you think should be utilized most heavily - the Episodic Frame or the Thematic Frame? Or are they both equally important? Explain your answer.
  • What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of covering a major news story through an Episodic Frame?
  • What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of covering a major news story through a Thematic Frame?  
  • Young states (3:54) that "there is a bias in favor of visual elements" referring specifically to "televisual media" (ie. video) and that this bias poses a challenge in covering the broader, contextual side of a news story. In today's televisual-saturated media landscape, what are some ways that we (society: citizens, journalists, politicians, etc.) might be able to overcome that challenge?  

TIME Reports: Margaret Sullivan Explains How the Decline of Local Journalism Undermines Democracy | TIME

Published on August 4, 2020: "For Katie Couric's latest series with Time, she spoke to journalist and author Margaret Sullivan about how the decline of local news can have significant consequences for communities - and how many communities across the country are becoming “news deserts”—places with limited local news sources."

  • Do you trust your local news media? Has that level of trust changed over time? If so, how?
  • What are your trusted sources of news? Why do you trust them?
  • Do you feel a personal connection with local news? What do you think is the role of local media in your community?
  • How important to you is coverage of local news? What difference could it make if local issues were not adequately covered? 
  • Should local news be covered only by local news outlets (as opposed to large news corporations)? Why or why not? 
  • What would your reaction be if you learned that The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper was shutting down? What if the Santa Fe Reporter were shutting down? Does Santa Fe need two local newspapers? Why or why not?
    (Think about how these two papers are different, particularly in terms of the kinds of stories they cover, and how they cover them. Not sure? Take a moment to click on the links for each and sniff around a bit.) 

Taking A Look At TikTok's Misinformation Challenge | Newsy

Published on Jan 27, 2022: "With more than 1 billion monthly users, TikTok isn't just viral lip-sync videos, but also a source of information — and misinformation. As apart of National #NewsLiteracyWeek @Newsy investigates how false content spreads on the massive social media platform."

  • If you use TikTok, have you ever come across information that you suspect is fake or misleading? How much thought or action do you give to it? How do you typically respond, if at all?
  • Do you think TikTok’s addition of a banner linking to vetted information about controversial topics is adequate? If you came across a video with provocative or alarming content you suspected might not be true, would you click on the banner to find out more? How would you respond?
  • Do you think TikTok’s creation of a media literacy video message or Abby Richards’ educational videos will be effective? How likely do you think it is that users will come into contact (ie. be ‘recommended’ by TikTok’s viewing algorithms) with such videos?  
  • Whose responsibility should it be to educate children about the credibility of online content? Parents? Educators? Both?
  • What message should parents be telling their children? What message should educators be telling their students? 

Coronavirus crisis: Misinformation leads to infodemic | Detroit Local 4 WDIV

Published on March 17, 2020: "Coronavirus crisis: Misinformation leads to an infodemic. Misinformation being spread online has caused big problems."

  • What two words do you think were combined to form the word "infodemic"? How is this term appropriate?
  • What are the parallels between how a virus spreads and how misinformation spreads?  
  • In what ways can an "infodemic" be dangerous? Are there small, seemingly harmless things that could happen as a result? What are some of the more dangerous scenarios that might result from the spread of misinformation?
  • What are possible economic impacts of an "infodemic"? What are possible health impacts of an "infodemic"?
  • Should tech and social media giants (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) have to bear any responsibility for "elevating authoritative content" and/or removing false information? Why or why not?
  • Consider this quote by the reporter: "Security researchers say they’re seeing fake websites popping up about the coronavirus and some consumers unwittingly click on them because they’re afraid." 
    What role do you think fear plays in readers'/viewers' decision to click on a link? How might that emotion impact our ability to think and critically evaluate information in our everyday lives?

The Bubble Experiment--The Media Bias Chart, Junk News, Social Media Feeds, and Resulting Bubbles | 9News NBC

Published on February 11, 2020: "Denver's 9News is running a fascinating experiment to simulate what people would see on their feeds if they followed only left, only right, and only center stories. They based their selections on the news source ratings of the Media Bias Chart. Ad Fontes Media founder Vanessa Otero talks about how junk news is like junk food, and how junk news leads to polarization."

  • What is the danger of always remaining in your "bubble"?
  • What role do our online search habits (and the algorithms that are generated from them) play in creating our individual "bubbles"? What can we, as responsible consumers of news and information, do to combat being placed in these bubbles.
  • Try this thought experiment: What is your least favorite fruit or vegetable? Or, which fruit or vegetable are you least familiar with?
    Because you dislike or are unfamiliar with it, does that make it any less healthy or beneficial for you?
    Are there "healthy" news sources with which you are unfamiliar, or news sources you've been advised by others in your bubble not to trust?
    How can this thought experiment/analogy be applied to our consumption of "healthy" sources of news (ie. news sources that are rated as least biased and highly reliable)?

Where the evidence of fake news is really hiding | Eli Pariser | Big Think

Published on Jul 18, 2019: "When it comes to sniffing out whether a source is credible or not, even journalists can sometimes take the wrong approach."

  • Pariser emphasizes that “…fact checkers were looking around the websites” as opposed to others who tended to look on/within the website itself as a method of fact-checking. Why did this technique seem to work better?
  • Pariser says, “Knowledge exists in a context.” What do you think he means by this?
    Would the meaning of his statement change if he had said, “Knowledge exists in the context of a scenario” or “Knowledge exists in the context of someone’s perspective”?
    What if he had used the word “information” instead of “knowledge”? Would that have changed the meaning of the original statement?
  • Pariser warns that superficial features of a medium (font or speaker’s articulation) are often not necessarily indicative of the credibility of a source. Do you agree? Disagree? Why/why not?

Political media's bias, in a single chart | Newsy

Published on December 28, 2018: "Vanessa Otero set out to rank an ever-growing partisan media landscape, with the belief that an informed public is a better public."

  • Compare Otero's chart to AllSides.com's bias chart here: https://www.allsides.com/media-bias/media-bias-chart. What similarities and differences do you notice?
  • Watch (or read) about Otero's/Ad Fontes' methodology for ranking news sources here: https://adfontesmedia.com/how-ad-fontes-ranks-news-sources/. (Video is at the top of the page, scroll past for written explanation.)
    Does the methodology seem fair? What does it say about Ad Fontes Media, that this methodology is published?
  • In our time-crunched society, how can this chart be useful?
  • The narrator states, "A comprehensive chart of political media then could serve as a sort of guide for those who want to make up their own minds." Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
  • What are the dangers in relying on a media bias chart like this, and other similar ones? 
  • Would you be willing to share this (or the AllSides.com) chart with family and friends? Why or why not? What, if any, difference might it make?

Five ways to spot fake news | Quartz

Published on Jan 15, 2018: "Here are five tips on how to spot fake news from Damaso Reyes, one of the project's directors who's taught dozens of new literacy classes."

How WhatsApp Destroyed A Village | BuzzFeed News

Published on Sep 16, 2018: "Rumors of child kidnappers spread on WhatsApp led to violence that has torn apart this rural Indian village."

  • Why do you think so many people believed the stories being spread via this app?
  • Do you think a lack of access to education contributed to their beliefs?
  • Do you think strong emotions contributed to their beliefs?
  • You’ve probably heard the phrase “knee jerk reaction.” Do you think the people of this village engaged in a ‘knee jerk reaction’? Is a ‘knee jerk reaction’ justified when it comes to the safety of one’s children?
  • What might have been a different way the people of the village could have handled the reporting of these events?

Why the News Isn't Really the News | Epipheo

**This is an oldie but a goodie!**
Published on May 13, 2013: "Ryan Holiday, the author of, "Trust Me, I'm Lying," shares a bit about how he has manipulated media to get bogus, anonymous stories to the front-page of news media outlets."

  • Holiday mentions that some blog sites have a “low threshold” for what they will and will not publish. What do you think might define a “low threshold”? How would you describe a blog (or other news source) that, in contrast, has a higher threshold? What might that higher threshold entail?
  • Holiday mentions how he has sent news media outlets “fake anonymous emails” and then watched as the resulting story spread and grew in strength. What does this say about the inherent danger of the so-called ‘anonymous tip’? Should news outlets have a blanket policy of refusing to act on such tips? What effect could that have on the flow and sharing of information in a democratized society?
  • Toward the very end, the narrator asks two very good questions, and Holiday gives his answer. What do you think about his answer?
  • "If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer - you’re the product.” Discuss! :-)

How fake news spreads on Twitter | Newsy

Published on March 8, 2018: "MIT researchers found fake news stories were much more likely to go viral on Twitter than real stories.."

Did you know you can actually *see* the spread of fake news?? Go to Hoaxy to track and visualize the spread of fake news!

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