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Should it be illegal to publish fake news?

Fake news is a false story that looks like news and it's spread across the internet. It's usually created to influence political views or it's made as a joke, but it can also be dangerous. After the 2016 presidential election, more people are talking about fake news because it may have influenced voters' decisions.


Man Fires Rifle Inside D.C. Pizzeria, Cites Fictitious Conspiracy Theories

Danish Man Is First Person Sentenced Under Malaysia's Anti-Fake-News Law

Additional resources to think about

How NOT to Spot Fake News
"Just because a news story is bad or troublesome doesn't make it fake," says the host of the Idea Channel. Watch the video for a fascinating breakdown on the difference between fake news and troublesome news.

Students Have 'Dismaying' Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds
Fake news isn't all about politics. Students have trouble discerning fact from fiction as well as adults.

Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Fake News Edition
Use these tips from On the Media to spot fake news.

NewsFeed Defenders
In this game from iCivics, you've joined the team at Newsably, a fictional social media site focused on news and information. Your mission? Maintain the site, grow traffic, and watch out! You'll also need to spot fake posts that try to sneak in through hidden ads, viral deception, and false reporting.

How false news can spread | TEDEd
In this lesson from TEDEd, Noah Tavlin sheds light on the part that our information superhighway plays in helping spread fake news.

Coronavirus: Tackling fake news in South Sudan | BBC My World
How one group of teenagers in a South Sudanese refugee camp are combatting misinformation about the Coronavirus and help people get factual and evidence-based health advice.

Why Is Fake News So Effective?
This PBS LearningMedia interactive lesson frames the controversial issues of fake news and trust in the media with the historical context of yellow journalism and sensationalist reporting. In addition to learning more about how fake news has evolved over the years, students will learn strategies for improving their media literacy and will be able to identify both credible and non-credible news sources.


Who created this message?

  • What kind of “text” is it?
  • How similar or different is it to others of the same genre?
  • What are the various elements (building blocks) that make up the whole?


What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

  • What do you notice (about the way the message is constructed)? 
  • What’s the emotional appeal?
  • What makes it seem “real?”
  • What's the emotional appeal? Persuasive devices used?

How might different people understand this message differently from me?

  • How many other interpretations could there be?
  • How could we hear about them?
  • How can you explain the different responses?

What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

  • What type of person is the reader/watcher/listener invited to identify with?
  • What ideas or perspectives are left out?
  • How would you find what’s missing?
  • What judgments or statements are made about how we treat other people?


Why is this message being sent?

  • What's being sold in this message? What's being told? 
  • Who is served by or  benefits from the message
    – the public?
    – private interests?
    – individuals?
    – institutions?

5 Key Questions of Media Literacy used with permission from the Center for Media Literacy.
Copyright 2002-2021, Center for Media Literacy,


Should it be illegal to publish fake news?

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