Tools to Sort Fact from Fiction

There are buckets of misinformation continuously flooding online media and older adults may find it difficult to determine what is fact and what may be more akin to fiction.  But with the ongoing risk for serious health complications from COVID-19, seniors are more vulnerable, and relying on inaccurate reporting could put their lives at risk.  That’s why the nonprofit Poynter Institute has partnered with AARP to help older adults determine if what they are reading online regarding politics, health, and other important issues is reliable and factual. 

MediaWise, which has until now focused on helping teens navigate online sources, has pivoted to guide older adults through the maze of media using fact-checking techniques used by journalists to help sort out the truth online.  AARP volunteers trained by MediaWise will provide free sessions to older adults to teach them how to be news savvy; especially when they are using social media.  

Many seniors are online but studies have found that older adults are more likely to accept and spread false information.  But according to a recent USA Today report, by asking these three questions developed by the Stanford History Education Group, older adults can learn to fact-check information for themselves:

  •  Who’s behind the information?
  •  What is the evidence?
  • What do other sources say?

By developing better media literacy skills, seniors can help protect themselves and others from misinformation about health issues and politics as well as financial scams that have seen a sharp uptick during the pandemic.  Taking time to check several other sources can help both young and older people from adding to the pool of misinformation which can have real-world implications.

Test how news-literate you are by answering these 12 questions through the News Literacy Project