Have you ever shared something online that ended up being fake? You are not alone! It’s hard for everyone to discern fact from fiction online.

Professional fact checkers and platforms alone cannot solve the problem of rampant online misinformation. There are too many hoaxers and too many opportunists. To fully combat the spread of misinformation online, we must teach a new generation to be more skilled evaluators of digital content.

That’s our goal with the groundbreaking non-profit project called MediaWise.

MediaWise is part of the Google News Initiative, funded by Google.org, and aims to teach 1 million teenagers how to spot fake news on the internet by 2020, with at least half of them coming from underserved or low-income communities.

We’re working with YouTube Creators like John Green, best-selling author of A Fault in Our Stars, host and co-creator of the CrashCourse YouTube channel (which has 8.5M subscribers), and other social media influencers to get our teachings and message out.

The centerpiece of the project is a new curriculum being written by grant partner Stanford History Education Group that will be available to schools across the country in the fall of 2019. Stanford is writing this curriculum after studying how professional fact-checkers, college students and historians navigate digital information. The foundation of the Stanford lessons is built on skills that professional fact-checkers use after Stanford discovered that fact-checkers and journalists are more critical and think very differently about what they read on the internet and how they sort through misleading or flat-out false information.

MediaWise frame at workshop

While the curriculum is underway, we’re launching a widespread teen fact-checking network with high school and middle school students across the country. With their help, the MediaWise team creating original content on our own social media accounts showing what teens can do to figure what’s real and what’s not online, fact-checking misinformation on the internet in real-time. As of December 2018, there are more than 1 million impressions on @MediaWise fact-checking content across our social accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

The third pillar of the project is in-person teaching sessions being held across the country with teens. Both big and small events are on the docket — everything from the Teen Vogue Summit where YouTube star Ingrid Nilsen helped teach 500 teens MediaWise skills in June 2018, to small community events with more hands-on training like our first workshop event held at the Poynter offices in St. Petersburg, Florida in October 2018 (watch video here!).

MediaWise is a partnership between The Poynter Institute, the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), the Local Media Association (LMA) and the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). It is part of the Google News Initiative and funded by Google.org.

>>If you want MediaWise to come do an event at your school, you can email us at mwtips@poynter.org.