It’s mid-term political season in America and you’re likely to see political ads, statements and news surface in your social media feeds. A news story posted by your uncle, another shared by your best friend and another served by an advertiser all seem to contradict each other. Understanding how news can be skewed based on the writer’s viewpoints, intentionally and unintentionally, is critical to making informed decisions in the modern world.
The heightened role of social media and the ease of sharing makes it more difficult to form our own opinions. Thankfully there are some resources that can help you as an individual and as an educator understand the bias that a source may hold.
AllSides offers news, issues and talking points through a lens of bias. Read how stories about the same topic are different based on who writes them. AllSides also houses a strong media bias rating system that uses “crowd-wisdom” and statistical analysis to identify sources as left, center and right.
Media Bias/Fact Check also provides a strong media bias rating system. It generally has information on more sources than AllSides and also rates the factual credibility of the site.
Here’s an activity to try with your students, teachers or building staff to open a conversation about media bias and explore how it impacts your community. Need a little help? Feel free to use this slide deck with the activity.
- Take note of the news sources in your social media feeds. This can be done in any grouping (individually, as a class, as a building) that might yield interesting perspectives.
- Use AllSides or Media Bias/Fact Check to check out the ratings of the sources you recorded.
- Create a line plot for the articles you see.
- Draw conclusions from your graph and discuss.
- What does the shape of your graph say about your social media feed?
- How might getting information from these sources influence your thoughts and opinions?
- Is good or bad for Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, etc. to use an algorithm that serves you more posts, ads or articles that match your assumed political views?
- How might we use this information to build awareness of media bias in our community?
DigCit Quick Hits are short activities designed for educators to use with students, staff or community members. Our intention is to build awareness through open dialogue around pertinent topics in digital life that affect our communities. Please contact Keith Tramper at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, requests for support or feedback.