BBC sending journalists to UK schools to teach students how to spot 'fake news'

The broadcaster says it essential for young people to "have the skills to filter out fakery from the truth"

BBC sending journalists to UK schools to teach students how to spot 'fake news'

Picture by: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/PA Images

The BBC has announced that it will send its journalists to hundreds of schools in the UK in a bid to help students identify 'fake news'.

The British state broadcaster says up to 1,000 schools will be offered mentoring from journalists (either in person or online), while free online materials - including videos and an interactive game - will be made available to all schools.

Announcing the decision at the Children’s Global Media Summit in Manchester, the BBC said the project will focus on secondary school students.

James Harding, Director of BBC News and Current Affairs, explained: "The distribution of news, real and fake, has accelerated with the times; the traditional media – newspapers, television, radio, have been engulfed by new forms, chief among them social media. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram carry information directly to countless millions every second of every day.

"But this information is frequently, perhaps mostly, unmediated – there is no one checking that it is true, or fair, or even legal."

He added: "Never has it been so important for young people to develop their critical thinking and to be news literate, and have the skills to filter out fakery from the truth, especially on their busy social media feeds."

Concerns about the distribution of 'fake news' have accelerated over the last two years, in particular during the 2016 US presidential election & Brexit referendum campaigns.

Here at home, a new Fianna Fáil bill is to be introduced today which focuses on tackling fake news.

Kildare North TD James Lawless is introducing his social media and online advertising transparency legislation in the Dáil, which proposes requiring transparency on the funding sources of online political advertising.