National Teachers Union Buys Censorship Software To Tell Kids Which Info Is Misinformation

By Rick Gonzales | Published

kids misinformation

The ongoing battle to eradicate the misinformation has taken a precarious turn as the efforts have now reached the school level. Whether this is a good thing or not, we’ll leave that up to you. The fight to slow down the deluge of misinformation seen by kids has now been ramped up as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second-largest teacher’s union in the United States, just announced their pairing with NewsGuard, a digital tool that ranks online news sources. This news, of course, has already been turned into a political debate.

According to NewsGuard’s landing page, they are a site dedicated to “fighting misinformation with journalism – not algorithms.” That’s a good thing, right? Using trained journalists to rate news and information sites? What could possibly be wrong with that? According to critics, a lot.

It’s true. Kids are relying more and more on the internet when doing research for homework or they are working on their next big school project. Kids are also relying on the internet as their only means of getting news and understanding what’s going on across the nation and the globe. As we all know, though, the quality of some “reputable” websites is under fire and misinformation continues to spread like wildfires in the California summertime.

“Imagine you walked into a library, and there were a trillion pieces of paper flying around in the air, and you grabbed one, and you didn’t know anything about it, or where it came from or who’s financing it,” says NewsGuard co-founder Steven Brill to Axios. This is what the pairing of AFT and NewsGuard hope to avoid. Steering our kids down the wrong misinformation path is not a goal of the AFT and NewsGuard.

The AFT, in order to help keep our public-school kids out of misinformation harms ways, is purchasing NewsGuard licenses for its 1.7 million teachers. In turn, these teachers will be able to share with the tens of millions of students the ability to safely decipher what’s real and what isn’t on the internet. Still, nothing can go wrong here, right?

AFT president, Randi Weingarten, weighed in on their decision to move forward with the NewsGuard team-up. She called NewsGuard a “beacon for clarity” before she clarified the why’s. “This historic deal will not only help us steer clear of increasingly fetid waters — it will provide a valuable lesson in media literacy and a discussion point for teachers in class on what can, and can’t, be trusted,” Ms. Weingarten said in a statement via The Washington Times.

This new licensing agreement will allow schoolteachers free access to NewsGuard’s news sites ratings as well as reviews concerning nutrition. Weingarten explains that this teaming is the ongoing effort to curb misinformation kids may see in middle school, high school, and post-secondary schools. “We are constantly trying to help our students, particularly our middle, high school, and post-secondary students, separate fact from fiction, as we help them develop their critical-thinking and analytical skills.”

One big proponent of this new pairing is CNN’s chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, calling NewsGuard a “librarian for the internet.” Stelter also added that NewsGuard’s “results are directionally reliable, distinguishing global newsrooms that try to report fairly from fly-by-night sites that publish propaganda with no regard for reality.” Unfortunately, or probably more expectedly, not all were on board with Stelter’s assessment of NewsGuard as a tool for protecting kids from misinformation, and thusly were certainly not on board with AFTs decision to bring NewsGuard into classrooms across the country.

Media Research Center (MRC) is one site that opposes this move. According to their research, NewsGuard provides ratings to over 7,000 news and information websites. What their research also uncovered is that NewsGuard rates left-leaning news sites 27 points higher than it rates right-wing outlets. According to MRC, left-wing sites have an average rating of 93% while right-wing sites average 66%. Those numbers seem to indicate a clear bias.

Whether it’s biased or not, the America Federation of Teachers feels NewsGuard is the solution to protecting kids from misinformation. As one of the largest teachers unions, they have incredible power over what your kids are taught in public schools. If they want it, then it will definitely be coming to your child’s classroom soon, if it isn’t already there.