Schools in Italy Offer Lessons to Fight Fake News

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. proliferation / prəˌlɪf əˈreɪ ʃən / (n) – the quick increase or spread of something

    The proliferation of false articles has become very alarming.

  2. conspiracy / kənˈspɪr ə si / (n) – a plan to carry out an illegal act

    There was a conspiracy to rebel against the government.

  3. dubious / ˈdu bi əs / (adj) – not reliable

    We should be careful of dubious websites.

  4. cater to (someone or something) / ˈkeɪ tər tu / (phrasal) – to provide what someone/something needs

    He catered to the requests of his client.

  5. fabricated / ˈfæb rɪˌkeɪted / (adj) – something created or made up

    The corrupt lawyer used fabricated evidence in his case.


Read the text below.

The Italian government has launched a program that helps students spot fake news on the Internet.

Launched in October 2017 as a response to the proliferation of fake news related to the 2018 Italian elections, the course aims to teach students in 8,000 high schools in Italy how to identify conspiracies and false information online. As a result, the government has collaborated with Italian journalists to create lessons and worksheets on how to avoid dissemination of fake news and take action when encountering news from dubious sources.

The project is also a collaboration with social media platform Facebook and technology giant Google. Facebook, in particular, is raising awareness by promoting the program in its ads catered to high school users.

Laura Boldrini, head of Italy’s lower parliament, is leading the program along with the Ministry Of Education in hopes of protecting students from fabricated information. She also wishes that the program will serve as a model to other European countries in combatting fake news.

Several other countries in Europe have started their fight against fake news. The United Kingdom has launched an investigation on fake news and looked into the responsibilities of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, which usually feature articles containing false information. In addition, Germany, France, and Switzerland have all developed campaigns and projects comparable to the Italian government’s initiative.

Similarly, a professor in Israel’s Haifa University developed the course “Fake News”, which looks into current propagandas and effects of social media on people’s realities. The course also aims to enhance students’ critical thinking skills in understanding social media messages.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think it’s necessary to adopt this program in your country? Why or why not?
• Aside from starting this program in schools, what other initiatives for handling fake news can be implemented?

Discussion B

• In your opinion, who should be primarily responsible for fighting fake news: the government or the digital media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter)? Explain.
• What would you do if you came across fake news online? Discuss.