The 9th of February 2021 is Safer Internet Day. This year’s theme is “An Internet we trust: exploring reliability in the online world”. We are celebrating by sharing Safer Internet Day with our audience to encourage you to also create a safer internet both for you and everyone else. The internet has an incredible range of information and opportunities. However, sometimes this information can be incorrect and misleading, but how do we tell apart the fact from fiction?
So, what is safer Internet Day?
UK Safer Internet Center was created in January 2011 as a part of the 31 other Safer Internet Centers which are a part of the Insafe Network which focuses on creating a safer and better internet for children and young people. This centre had 3 main functions.
- Awareness Centre, which has support and advice for adults, carers, schools, children, and young people.
- Helpline, which has support for professionals working with young people and children with online safety issues.
- Hotline which is a safe and anonymous place to remove and report child abuse videos and imagery, anywhere in the world.
How Can I Help?
First, you can share this page about Safer Internet Day on your social media to friends and family, so they can learn about it too. You can also report malicious content whenever you see it. Whether it be harassment, child abuse, false information, or fake news. All main social media platforms have a way to report media which goes against their rules and standards. Usually this is three dots to the top or bottom right of the post.
If you think the content is more serious and dangerous, you can report and contact it to the police, and they will look further into it to help get it removed or help protect those involved.
What have they achieved?
From 1st July 2016 – 31st Dec 2018
- they removed 213,366 web pages (that is 233 a day!)
- had 40,000 attendees at online safety sessions
- trained 5,500 young people as digital leaders in their school community for Childnet Digital Leaders
- distributed almost 2 million copies of their printed resources
- their Hotline had reduced child sexual abuse content in the UK from 18% to below 1%
These are just to name a few! You can read their full report here.
But how do we spot false information? Here are our top tips for spotting fact from fiction.
1. Who shared the post or created it?
For example, if there is a medical article claiming that an early sign of an illness is cold, and you are worried that you might be coming down with said illness, have a look at the source. Is it from an NHS or WebMD site? Are there other reliable sites with the same information? Is the language they use in a clear and professional manor? Is their profile image a celebrity or cartoon that does not actually represent the person showed? If these do not apply, it is probably fear mongering and fake.
2. When was this created?
We are learning all the time. Facts change and are updated all the time as we find out more information. When coronavirus was first spreading, there was very little information to the seriousness of the illness. However, now, we know much more about it and there is still plenty to learn. Have a look at when the date for when the post or article was created. Is it 10 years old from the ancient start of the internet with out-of-date formatting? Or is it an April 1st post? On the other hand, if the article or profile were only very recently made with not much information about who they are or the organisation, it could be someone trying to spread false information about a recent popular topic. Be sure to check the date to help decide whether it could be reliable.
3. Where was the article shared? When was the account created? Do they post 24/7 or every so often?
There are some sites which have 24/7 coverage. These are usually media outlets or large companies such as BuzzFeed, Amazon, Apple etc. This is because their customers or readers are all over the world. However, be sure to see how often an account is posting and what type of content they are sharing. If they seem like a smaller brand, business or are just one individual there is a good chance that they may be a bot and that the information they are share is not reliable and is just posting ‘click bait’ content. Click bait content is a term commonly used for when a piece of media is misleading and is trying to get a reaction from the viewer into engaging with the item.
You can also find fact-checkers online such as Full Fact.
It can be hard to tell if something is fact or fiction. If you are unsure ask a friend or family member for a second opinion before taking the information as gospel.