As the 2020 election looms ever closer, fear is on the rise that fake news is going to mess with everyone’s heads again. At least one person is doing something about it: Angelina Jolie. Or, well, she’s doing something to teach the next generation how to spot fake news, with a new series for the BBC called My World, aimed at a teenage audience.
“As a parent I am happy to be able to give my support to a program that aims to help children learn more about the lives of other young people around the world, and connect to them to each other,” Jolie said in a statement, according to Variety. “I hope it will help children find the information and tools they need to make a difference on the issues that matter to them, drawing on the BBC World Service’s network of thousands of journalists and multiple language services around the world.”
The weekly half-hour show, which is created in partnership with Microsoft Education, is designed to help teens think more critically about the onslaught of information they encounter online director of BBC World service Jamie Angus said in the statement. It will begin airing this Sunday on the BBC World Service, and it will also be available on Youtube and the BBC’s 42 different language services, Variety reports. Sorry, Jolie fans, the actress’ role for this project is purely behind the scenes. BBC presenters Radzi Chinyanganya and Nomia Iqbal will be the anchors.
“Nurturing these abilities is the aim of My World, and they’re crucial for today’s young people, not just for personal development but the future health of global democracy,” Angus said.
You don’t have to take a mainstream broadcaster’s word for it that this kind of education is necessary. Back in 2017, Common Sense Media reported that only 44 percent of teens were confident they could distinguish real news from fake news, and 31 percent of them said they had shared a story on social media only to find out later that it was false.
The BBC first announced this project in late 2018, so we hope that the intervening years involved a lot of thoughtful preparation for the show. We do know that part of that process involved creating an accompanying curriculum teachers can download from Microsoft by registering here. The site also promises that resources for parents are coming soon.
Now all we need is a version of this show that will teach our own parents how to spot fake stories before they blast them all over Facebook.