SINGAPORE: Students are set to play a bigger role in the fight against fake news, as authorities ramp up outreach efforts to combat the growing menace.
One such initiative is the News and Media Literacy Toolkit that was launched by the Media Literacy Council (MLC) on Monday (Mar 11) at the Better Internet Conference, where experts shared insights into the latest trends on cyber challenges.
Authorities have identified better public awareness as key to stopping online falsehoods, which rank high on the list of threats.
The new toolkit, which will be rolled out across secondary schools on Tuesday, is a series of lesson plans that will help students spot fake news.
It also teaches them to discern between fact and opinion, through various scenarios and activities.
READ: Don't forward fake news, use strong passwords - S Iswaran on putting Digital Defence into action
Professor Lim Sun Sun, head of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, said that outreach efforts should target children as they consume a lot of media content and are the tech experts in their families.
"Children are the most voracious media consumers and at the same time children can play a very helpful role in terms of not just educating their peers but also their family members about technology, because children are extremely familiar with technology.
"They are among the best ambassadors out there (to help) spread the word in terms of critical thinking and discernment,” she said.
Also launched on Monday was the Get Smart with Sherlock fact-checking starter kit.
Based on the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes, the kit not only teaches students how to spot fake news, but also the reasons why people fall for them, such as cognitive biases and echo chambers.
“As Singaporeans become increasingly reliant on social media as our main source of information, we need to start cultivating healthy scepticism and question the things we read online," said MLC vice-chairman Carol Soon.
Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran, who also spoke at Monday’s event, stressed that the defence against fake news has to be multi-pronged and that strengthening digital literacy cannot be over-emphasised.
"Ultimately, the integrity and reliability of the Internet and social media lies in the hands of netizens, and that is why the importance of strengthening Singapore’s media and digital literacy cannot be over-emphasised,” he said.
“It will require a whole-of-Singapore effort, involving students and parents, citizens, the industry and the Government all working together to tackle the problem of deliberate online falsehoods.”
Mr Iswaran added that his ministry is consulting academics and relevant agencies on the developments of the National Framework on Information, Media and Cyber Literacy.
The framework will provide a set of guidelines for organisations running digital literacy programmes.