Swedish school kids learn source criticism in fake news study

Source criticism is on the schedule for Swedish school children as a major scientific study looks into exactly what stories end up in the pupils' online news feeds.

Swedish school kids learn source criticism in fake news study
File photo: Erik Nylander/TT
The project Nyhetsvärderaren (the News Evaluator) targets pupils aged between 13 and 18, and is open for school classes across Sweden.
The aim is to get a better picture of what news stories end up in children's news feeds, explains Thomas Nygren, senior lecturer at the Department of Education at Uppsala University.
“We know that children today see more and more news online, on their phones and so on. But what they see, and how common fake news is for instance – that we don't know,” Nygren told the Local.
Using an online tool, the pupils will assess the trustworthiness of news items by looking at factors such as where the story came from, what evidence is presented, and how the same story is packaged by other media outlets. 
“Our hope is that we'll get a much better picture of what children's news flows look like. Of what it is that's being spread, and how it's spread,” Nygren said.
“We know from research today that it's very difficult for everyone to assess news. It's hard for adults as well as for young people. Even professors have problems critically evaluating news online today.”
In the age of fake news, the researchers hope the study will give a better picture of how common fake stories are in the pupils' news flows. In the long run, this could help decision-makers in matters regarding children's media consumption.
“We know that fake news exists, but is it something that washes over the pupils, or do they see it once in a while? We don't know that,” said Nygren.
“So this is really important knowledge for society: is it something we need to put major resources into? Or is it less common, meaning we need to put less resources into it?”
The researchers hope at least 3000-5000 students from across Sweden will take part in the project, which will be presented in full after Christmas 2017. Some intial findings will be presented on September 29th as part of the European Researchers' Night, an initiative launched by the European Commission. 


Google News to return to Spain after seven-year spat

Google announced Wednesday the reopening of its news service in Spain next year after the country amended a law that imposed fees on aggregators such as the US tech giant for using publishers’ content.

Google News to return to Spain after seven-year spat
Google argues its news site drives readers to Spanish newspaper and magazine websites and thus helps them generate advertising revenue.Photo: Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

The service closed in Spain in December 2014 after legislation passed requiring web platforms such as Google and Facebook to pay publishers to reproduce content from other websites, including links to their articles that describe a story’s content.

But on Tuesday the Spanish government approved a European Union copyright law that allows third-party online news platforms to negotiate directly with content providers regarding fees.

This means Google no longer has to pay a fee to Spain’s entire media industry and can instead negotiate fees with individual publishers.

Writing in a company blog post on Wednesday, Google Spain country manager Fuencisla Clemares welcomed the government move and announced that as a result “Google News will soon be available once again in Spain”.

“The new copyright law allows Spanish media outlets — big and small — to make their own decisions about how their content can be discovered and how they want to make money with that content,” she added.

“Over the coming months, we will be working with publishers to reach agreements which cover their rights under the new law.”

News outlets struggling with dwindling print subscriptions have long seethed at the failure of Google particularly to pay them a cut of the millions it makes from ads displayed alongside news stories.

Google argues its news site drives readers to newspaper and magazine websites and thus helps them generate advertising revenue and find new subscribers.