The Fake News Fitness
Extension (Under Construction)
What It Does
FNF scaffolds student analysis of web pages to assess trustworthiness.
The FNF Chrome extension embeds a form (partially-filled) in a web page.
The form pulls data from the page into fields for students to consider.
Structured and open response fields ask students to analyze the web page.
The form saves a fresh Google Doc to the student's drive for further work.
The form will have a toggle to hide and show, so it does not block the page.
The form will have a "copy/paste data" button as a Google Doc alternative.
Fake News Fitness (FNF) is a Google Chrome Extension. It is designed to complement a Media Literacy unit as an analysis tool, sharing platform and culminating project. Students learning to apply web media literacy to think critically about online sources can pull up a web page, complete a form, and create a "Page Check", a document of their detailed investigation of the credibility of the article or resource they are examining. They are then invited by the teacher to share this rating and commentary with other students in their class, and/or partner classrooms, for comment exchanges.
1. Install the Extension and Pin it.
When you install, you'll be prompted to link to a Google Account. That enables the extension to create a Google Doc in your drive with the data collected by the extension and entered by the user. Once installed, pin it to the Chrome toolbar to see the red FN icon and open the form with one click.
2. Analyze an Article
A tour of the extension follows.
Find an article about a domestic US topic that might have polarized content (try The Factual's Latest News and click "full coverage" at right to see how different source biases affect coverage). Then click the FN button. If for any reason you don't see the pop-up, refresh the article after installing and try again. If you find an article that doesn't work, please email us the URL so we can fix it.
There are MANY fields here. Leave as many blank as you wish. The intention is not to have students try to complete all fields at once, but enter initial data and then return to their Google Doc to do the more advanced "System 2" work of actually analyzing the page, making a final determination later.
3. Save The Analysis to a Google Doc
The SUBMIT ALL DATA link will save the analysis to your Google Drive. You can, if you wish, go look at it there, and add something to one of the analysis questions. For example, entering Page Mistrust Markers and Red Flags could follow a lesson about how to notice clues, where students make "T charts" about how Breitbart and the New York Times differ.
Above is the first page of data on the current version of the extension form. It's a work in progress: for example, we need to get the "Author Link" to be displayed properly and clickable. The last three fields above (Headline Matches Content, Advertising / Content Ratio and Clickbait Rank) are only for user input, while the others are pulled from the page source when that data is available.
On Page Two of the form, all text links from the body of the article are listed. The user is invited to remove those that are not germane to whatever claim the user is investigating. Those that remain will be copied to the Google Doc that holds the results of this "instant investigation" for further study.
There is also a space for non-linked cited sources, for example a source that is available only in print form. Section 2 also includes a WHOIS lookup, which identifies the owner of the website (when not masked by privacy settings).
Looking deeper, there are spaces to identify claims, locate an on-site about-us page (or information other sites have about the site).
Following are three scalar responses about the bias of the story, the bias of the reader, and an initial gauge of the trustworthiness of the article, followed by a text entry response area for markers of trust and mistrust.
At the close of the second section of the form, the user notes the trust assessment of the page and questions for commenters. Fields are expandable by pulling the lower right corners.
Upon completion (or at any point before), users may either save the form as a Google Doc to their personal drives, or copy and paste the form content into another word processor. The intention is that the document produced by the extension will be shared by the student creating it with others, so that they might respond to the questions or other annotations on the "Page Check" using Google Doc comments or other means.
Below is a screenshot image of a Fake News Fitness investigation saved to a Google Doc with document outline showing at left, and at right an example analysis of https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/01/21/anti-vaccine-dc-rally-covid-mandates.
Page Mistrust Markers
The number of ads makes it very difficult to read. Using a Print Version extension made a huge difference. I could connect these paragraphs and the misleading subhead:
‘Truly frightening’ - SUBHEAD
Several pediatricians interviewed by The Washington Post said they are not yet seeing an increase in the number of parents refusing vaccines for their children, but there are worrisome signs.
Why this Rank?
In the subhead above and in the general framing of this story we see the Post attempting to stoke fear about the anti-vax protests, even though the quotes themselves do not really support that. As it turned out, the protest was a wash-out. This leads me to mistrust the Post. The New York Times did not have a front-page article about the event today, because it was not front-page news.
Questions for Later
Does the Washington Post have a history of sensationalism? Does it stoke fear in ways that the New York Times does not? Is that related to the fact that the Post has an advertising-based business model and must drive traffic to its site, while the Times has a subscription model and does not need to sensationalize stories?