The complexity of navigating credible, biased and false news

Thomas Nygren & Mona Guath, Uppsala University

Today, in Sweden, media and information literacy is described as central to education aimed at promoting knowledge, equality and active citizenry. In a world of credible, biased and false information our research shows that the challenge of evaluating digital information is greater than that of accessing news. In Sweden, young people read and share primarily credible news from established news media. However, both teenagers and adults struggle to separate credible news from biased and fake news. We find that skills of determining credibility of digital news are associated especially with higher education, education in the humanities and art, and appreciating credible news. Overconfidence in one鈥檚 ability to assess the credibility of online information is associated with poor performance among young Swedes.

We talk about the need to develop evidence-based materials and methods to promote critical and constructive mindsets among citizens, mindsets that are based on scientific curiosity, not overconfidence and maladaptive heuristics. We currently address this issue by developing digital and educational support people to navigate online news in ways similar to fact-checkers. Specifically, we test and develop materials and methods to support civic online reasoning and technocognition in both large-scale impact studies and smaller experimental studies. Our most recent findings highlight the complexity of promoting skills and attitudes linked to successful strategies to assess online information. In our presentation, we will show how classroom activities may promote attitudes but not skills. We will also present and, hopefully discuss, preliminary findings from an experimental study with a digital self-test designed to support lateral reading and the ability to debunk deep fake.

Here you have the video.