Big Pharma Backed ‘Fact Checkers’ Will Help US School Kids ‘Navigate Sea Of Online Disinformation’

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The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has partnered with NewsGuard, a for-profit “fact-checking” company with deep connections to Big Pharma.

Their aim is to ‘help’ students in US schools “navigate a sea of online disinformation.”

AFT, the second largest teachers’ union in the US is also an advocate of mandatory covid jabs and face masks for schoolchildren.

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The Defender reports: Under a deal announced last month, AFT agreed to purchase NewsGuard licenses for its entire membership of teachers — 1.7 million in total — making the NewsGuard tool available to tens of millions of public school students and their families.

Teachers will receive licensed copies of NewsGuard’s internet browser extension, providing access to its “traffic light” ratings and “nutrition label” reviews evaluating the purported reliability of news and information websites when those sites are visited.

Announced during “News Literacy Week,” AFT touted the agreement as an opportunity for its member teachers to play a bigger role in helping their students “navigate a sea of online disinformation.”

AFT stated:

“For years, educators have fought battles against suspect sourcing, with their students often misled by dubious outlets and spam sites posing as ‘news’. NewsGuard offers a practical solution, alerting students and educators to those sites while also providing a valuable lesson in media literacy.

“Students and their teachers will be able to see how NewsGuard applies nine criteria of journalistic practice to thousands of websites and will get an immediate read on the truthfulness and rigor of the information they encounter when searching online.”

Randi Weingarten, president of AFT, added:

“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.

“NewsGuard is a great tool in this regard. It is a beacon of clarity to expose the dark depths of the internet and uplift those outlets committed to truth and honesty rather than falsehoods and fabrications. 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.

“The hallmark of good journalism is fair, richly sourced reporting that gives citizens an insight into how the world works. Sadly, the foundational role of the fourth estate is in danger of being poisoned by torrents of trash. NewsGuard reminds us of the importance of an independent press that students can rely on to form their own views and opinions so they can participate as active citizens in our democracy.”

Axios described the deal as one in which American schoolchildren are getting “an internet librarian,” adding that “[t]he hope is that students with the skills to spot disinformation will grow into more thoughtful and better-informed citizens and voters.”

Drawing on the library analogy, NewsGuard stated:

“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.

“That’s the internet, that’s your Facebook feed, that’s your Google search.”

Helping children become more media literate and better able to spot misinformation online appears, at face value, to be a noble goal.

However, a closer look at NewsGuard’s advisers, partners and investors reveals a web of interests closely linked to the military, intelligence, media and political establishments, as well as to the world of corporate marketing — including an advertising agency sued for illegally marketing opioids.