Five tips for children and young people to recognize false information

The press has a tradition of hiding an April Fool’s joke in their columns every year. At a time when false information is flooding social networks – thanks to the health crisis, the war in Ukraine or the presidential election – this year will be an exception. We have decided to target children and young people and give these future citizens some keys to develop their critical thinking and thus recognize and protect themselves from fake news.

Immigration, social housing, the environment… The presidential campaign is on the verge of intoxication

What is fake news?

we can say fake news, or infox (the contraction of the words “info” and intox) or fake news: it’s the same thing. When information in the form of text, image or sound is disseminated by a person or a medium with the aim of deceiving and thereby manipulating public opinion, creating tension, this is the case fake news. It is to be distinguished from erroneous information that may creep into an article but should not mislead the reader.

Ask yourself what the source is

In order to know whether information is true, you have to ask yourself the question of the source, i.e. the origin of the information. It can be primary (for example, a special envoy on the ground) or secondary, involving an intermediary. Is this source a direct witness, an expert, an activist, an uncle’s friend’s brother? If the media relaying the information is usually reliable, they have already relayed it fake newsis it a parody site?

A quick internet search should be enough to find the numbers quoted or the author of an article a friend just sent you. If you can’t find these references, there’s a good chance it’s fake news. And if you’re unfamiliar with the media, here’s a tip: click the “Who are we?” button. or “About” the relevant website. If their content is unclear, the media are unreliable.

Beware of social networks

Information spreads very quickly on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok. And the success of content is measured by how often it is shared. But it is not because an article is highly commented and widely circulated that its content is reliable. Do not share unchecked and even less without having read the article in question! Once again, it is the source that legitimizes information.

Adopt the right reflexes

The key is to be careful! Journalists have a rule of always double-checking their information. It’s up to you to do the same! Don’t hesitate to check if a topic is covered by multiple recognized media outlets.

Attention, the logo of a ministry on a publication can be the result of a very good montage. The solution is to check the website of the ministry in question.

Also look at the URL address (which starts with www.) of the website you are on. franceinfo’s is If the URL address is www.franceteleinfo, we are trying to mislead you!

Very important at the end: Always pay attention to the publication date of the article, information that was published two years ago may be out of date today.

Analyze the images

A photo can be retouched, taken out of context, from an older event… In order not to be fooled, first take a closer look at it. A character wearing a heavy coat and hat when the event is scheduled to take place in the summer is suspect. A scene meant to take place in Asia when a street sign is written in English, it is. But sometimes a keen eye just isn’t enough.

So check the addresses mentioned in Google Street View or Google Earth to see if they match the picture.

You can also do a reverse image search using Google Images (by clicking the camera icon) or the TinEye website to find the original image in a few clicks.

Trust the professionals

Many reputable media have set up units to verify information (referred to as “fact checking”). This is the case for the titles of the Center France group with its “Antiviral” section. But there is also the cell of the Agence France press “AFP Factual”, the “decoders” of the world or “True or Fake” by franceinfo. The world also has a tool, “Decodex”, that indicates whether a site or webpage is reliable or not.

Resource. The Clemi, the Center for Media and Information Education, is a very interesting educational resource to learn how to decipher information and sharpen your critical mind.

Pauline Mareix

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