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Google wants to teach kids how to spot fake news

The curriculum will teach kids how to "Be Internet Awesome".
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One would think that Google, a company built on search algorithms and tight partnerships with advertisers, would allow a glimpse into one of these core competencies when it decides to share its expertise with kids.

Maybe Google would educate them on Artificial Intelligence (AI) – what kind of data it requires, and how a smart tech company can use that data to make itself awesomely successful and even richer.

But instead, Google has a “media literacy” program for children, that will teach them to be vigilant online and wise to such things “fake news and disinformation.”

A little disappointing? Still, that’s not to say Google is not news media-savvy – only just this week, a Pro Veritas report linked the tech giant with editorial ambitions, again, through the use of machine learning algorithms.

But TechCrunch writes that this outreach effort is of an entirely different nature – i.e., the kids will not be taught how to write algorithms that can sway opinion and enforce a particular kind of fairness, fostered by the company, onto every one of its users.

This is about “digital safety and citizenship curriculum for children” dubbed, “Be Internet Awesome.”

It’s a high bar, but Google has faith it will be able to teach kids such things as “verifying that information is credible and evaluating sources” – along with spotting bots, fake news, fake URLs, and avoiding phishing attacks.

And the report adds, the kids will not just be soaking up whatever information’s presented to them by Google – they’ll also develop critical thinking skills by means of “activities and discussion starters.”

Google will also touch on AI in what TechCrunch vaguely words as making sure children learn “how AI works” – but for the purpose of identifying a bot from a real person.

Then there’s a section about people and groups who will “twist the truth” to get others to agree with it. Presumably, the kids are advised that if they start out disagreeing – then these groups and individuals must be spreading “disinformation.”

It’s a good thing that Google points out at one point in the curriculum, “how to figure out what a source’s motives are, and learn that ‘just because a person is an expert on one thing doesn’t make them an expert on everything.”

You can say that again, Google.

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