Fake News Recognition- A New Subject in Italian Schools

In this era of digital age and globalized world, the Italian students are soon becoming professionals at multitasking and handling works of different spheres. To bring their spontaneity to good use, they are being made into spies of digital age. A new subject of Fake News Recognition has been introduced in the curriculum of Italian schools. To tackle dangers of digital platform and throwing light upon the fake news circulated often, the students will be trained. Their commandments will mainly comprise of :

  1. They shall not share unverified news;
  2. They shall ask for sources and evidence;
  3. They shall remember that the internet and social networks can be manipulated and several others.

This is a step taken by Italian government with the help of leading social platforms like Facebook to train students in this direction and ensure a digital world free of unwanted conspiracy and online circulation of false facts.In words of  Laura Boldrini, of the Italian lower house of Parliament,  “Fake news drips drops of poison into our daily web diet and we end up infected without even realizing it.” She also heads this project and experiment with the help of Ministry of Education .This initiative will be rolled out in 8,000 high schools across the country starting from Oct. 31.

Italy alone is not the only one taking a step in this direction. This is indeed a matter of concern and this seed of public confusion sown every minute has to be tackled effectively. For this Pope Francis also ensured to make a speech and dedicate the World Communications Days 2018 in this direction. Also, The U.S. Congress is investigating how Russian agents spread false stories to sway the 2016 Presidential election. This somewhere undermined the credibility of powerful institutions like Facebook and Twitter and several others.

The Five Star Movement

Due to the Italian elections early next year, the country has become an increased fertile ground for digital deceit. As a victim of  economic crises, upset by a migrant issues and unhelpful media, many Italians incline and believe to all kinds of conspiracy theories. Believing the fact that there is always something behind the surface; a reality hidden.

A history of scheming waves of foreign domination, economic breakdowns and corrupt governments had imbued Italians with an abiding distrust in authority thereby making such availability of fake news a staple diet for them.

In recent years, these background reasons has helped erode the standing of traditional political parties, insurgents and outsiders, none more so than the surging Five Star Movement and its founder, Beppe Grillo. The Five Star Movement believes more than any other political party in conspiracy theories, says an editor of “Conspiracies and Plots — From Machiavelli to Beppe Grillo.”

It is said that it is not only a tactic to attract votes from left and right but it is their view. A worldwide view of political form. For the Five Star Movement, spreading conspiracies was akin to a policy.

“They play clever and use the term Great Powers, never mentioning who those powers are,” said Mr. Biondo, who has recently written a book, “Supernova: How Five Star Was Killed.”

Steps ensured in this direction

Miss. Boldrini, who is also the sponsor of the new student curriculum, says that the web cannot be protected of deceit, and that the government ensures that the next generation of Italian voters defend themselves against falsehoods, deception and conspiracy theories designed to play on their fears and work it on their favor and against their interests. Including Google and Facebook in the project is a right step as many active users are essentially a part of it in large numbers.

Facebook was quick to appreciate the initiative. Laura Bononcini, chief of public policy for Facebook in Italy, gave a statement that “the program is an international effort. Social Media Education is a crucial initiative to curb the spread of false news, and the collaboration with schools is pivotal.” Facebook has also taken a step showing ads on the accounts of high school age users to make them aware of how their likes are being politicized and used by deceit authorities.

Some of the Italian course load seems unrealistic, while some tips are useful, like a check on for parody URLs, students are also called upon to reach out to experts to verify news stories.

They strive to make students fake-news hunters and spies, showing them how to create their own social accounts to expose false stories how they uncovered it.

The Case Study and need for such initiave

May, witnessed an outrageous measles outbreak in Italy. The medicinal authorities strengthened its vaccination requirements for school-age children, prompting so-called No-Vaccination activists to protest outside the Italian Parliament.

The ones opposing vaccination had a strong hold in Five Star Movement and posed strong allegations that this weakened the Children’s immune system and was more of a scam. His wildly popular blog has alleged that some vaccines “can kill,” and have published anti-vaccine reports.

Sensational reports by Russian-backed news outlets that were deemed false and damaging to the movement’s political enemies were spread by The Five Star Movement. The effect was that, that people came out in protest against vaccinations. “It’s what the pharmaceutical companies do, and it’s questionable,” Paola Barile, 65, said as she stood with a Five Star Movement flag wrapped around her shoulders. New electoral law was asked to be devised and the government was brought under the shackles of shame.

However the story does not end here. The Five Star is not only the one benefitting and students being deceived.

Another case sprung up when Gian Marco Centinaio, a senator from the Northern League, a right-leaning party, accepted that he had put on Facebook a post, of a picture of a man identified as Ms. Boldrini’s brother, and had 18,000 shares. He brought up a false complaint of how the news programs “don’t cover” the man’s no-show job that paid 47,000 euros, or more than $55,000, a month. However, the man in the image was not her brother, and none of the allegations were true.

Mr. Centinaio called the post a joke and said, “People should not be naive.”

A healthy dose of skepticism is exactly what the new Italian program hopes students will adopt. If People are educated enough on such digital matters, they will not fall a prey to such chicanery and deception.

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