The fight against Fake News in the classroom


What protects you from Fake News? And how you can help young media consumers to identify incorrect information and to verify facts? DW-reporter Teri Schultz reports on creative initiatives.

Ioanna Kakymota hopes that young people believe everything they read in the Social Media channels

In a conversation with 13-year-olds on the theme of Migration, the journalist Juliane von Reppert wondered-Bismarck, that the young people had clear opinions about the upcoming presidential elections in the United States. Were you impressed by Donald Trump. As of Reppert-Bismarck, asked where the students had their information on the American candidate here, the answer was “Instagram”.

“I told you: This is not a source of information, but a photo App,” recalls of Reppert-Bismarck. She asked the students to show you these entries and was shocked when she looked at the cracked screen of the smartphone of a student. “It was a Screenshot of a Text from Instagram, which was circulated in a private Whatsapp group,” says the journalist.

“It was a crazy ‘Russian Bot-Text’ in very poor English. The statement was: everything in the media is bullshit. I’ll tell you what really happened. Hillary Clinton killed all those CIA agents. Think about it, how would you feel if Clinton had murdered your parents. In comparison, what did Trump is nothing.”

Propaganda has a long breath

But what brings it to spread such news among non-voters, non-American young people? It is one of the elementary counterfeiters, most of the tactics of Information: you don’t have to prove what you say and just want to see only doubt. A Screenshot of a text on Instagram bypasses automated ‘Fact-Checking’functions to detect inflammatory language, when you need it on Facebook or Twitter. But in a private WhatsApp group no one is watching. It is a place can not be found, the fact-checker, so by Reppert-Bismarck.

This experience was a turning point for von Reppert-Bismarck was, for twenty years a journalist. She thought: “Why in the world I’m a beautiful journalism, if people can’t even distinguish between this beautiful journalism and total fiction? You don’t ask for the source where the information originates.”

Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck founded the “Lie Detector” to protect students from Fake News

Because you wanted to change something: she gave up her Job, and developed a new program with the name “Lie Detector”, or in English “lie detector”. It trains journalists and send them to schools so that they teach pupils aged ten years, such as check information and trusted can detect the sources. Financing of large Tech companies like Google and Facebook, or governments has avoided the initiator. “Lie Detectors” as the most important financial support comes instead from an American charity organization, the Wyss Foundation.

Students raise more skepticism

One of the courses of the “Lie Detector” at an international school in Brussels, the American journalist Anna Mulrine is Rough. You discussed with 15-Year-old about what kind of information you could be bombarded with in social media. Gross asks the students if anyone of them has heard of the American satirical magazine “The Onion”. Some of the students on show. “How can you call something like that?”, asks Gross. “Propaganda,” says the student Ioanna Kakomyta – “Right!” confirmed it Rough.

Later Kakomyta told that you always check everything you read, double. You do but are Worried about your younger classmates. “On Social Media, you really don’t know what to believe. Many people Express an opinion without knowing what actually happens. This is make believe.”

Her classmate John Wehrheim says he would have information only from the trust to retrieve the trusted news sites. But he is Worried about people who do not do this. “In Germany, for example, many people follow the Twitter Account of the AfD. You trust them on the issue of climate change and all sorts of other messages you spread. It worries me that people believe them.”

A game against Fake News

Those who can’t attend his school on a course that there are other ways. The website “” sounds like a bad advice, but it is a game. It was developed by a Dutch group called the DROP, which consists of academics, journalists and media experts. Marije Arentze from DROP told in the interview-from their “vaccination theory, you are working against disinformation. After that, it may help people in a controlled environment to suspend the deliberately false information in order to sensitise them for it. So mental antibodies could be formed, which help people to detect Fake News and repel.

One in four young adults uses the Digital News Report in 2019, according to Instagram as a news source

The users of the “” slip into the role of journalists who try to spread fake stories to attract as many readers as possible and at the same time as a credible stand. “You have to overcome your own mental limits and that triggers a thought process that helps you build up resistance,” explains Arentze, which is convinced that your game is not working.

“We are currently conducting research in collaboration with the University of Cambridge to the existence of so-called vaccines,” said Arentze. “And the first results suggest that people are better at recognizing fake messages, after you have played our game and at the same time you trust in real news, not less.”

Defensive measures necessary

Arentze comparing your Tool with the teaching of martial arts. Combat athletes would not attack others, she says, but you can defend yourself if necessary. And in the area of disinformation defensive measures are definitely necessary.

Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck of the “Lie Detector” says with melancholy, you hope to one day return to journalism return, but at the Moment, your Initiative had a lot to do. “Lie Detector” is approaching its 700. Class room visit in Belgium, Germany and Austria. The project plans to expand in other countries and languages. With the aim of concentrate mainly spread false information out of the way to rooms and to ensure that there is no market for their Fake News.