Tackling Fake News via Fake People: Co-creating a toolkit to help young people recognise fake news

This project aimed to co-create, test, and widely share a school-based intervention for young people (aged 13) that helps them make better choices around their sources of information, and how they share information.

It's hard to feel secure if you don't know who or what to trust online. Fake news reaches more people and spreads more quickly than the  truth (Science, 2018) and is believed around 75% of the time (Silveman & Singer-Vine, 2016), meaning millions of people may have been fooled by fake news (Allcot & Gentzkow, 2017). Until young people have the tools to work out the truth, they are likely to be fooled by false online information.

Worse, many young people do not trust ‘experts’ and authority figures such as teachers (Midgley, Eccles & Feldlaufer, 1991). However, many do trust YouTube personalities and 40% think their favourite influencer understands them better than their friends (O’Neil-Hart & Blumenstein, 2016). Our innovation is to get relevant social media influencers to lead virtual workshops directly with young people, trading on their social currency to maximise the positive impact of the workshop.

The intervention was co-created by young people, teachers, academics and influencers. Co-created interventions are more engaging, impactful and have higher uptake (Balazs & Morello-Frosch, 2013), and this will be the first co-created intervention exploring fake news.  

We tested the intervention with 360 adolescents to see how it improves their ability to make good choices around online information. This will be measured before and after the intervention, and a few weeks later. There will also be a control group who do not complete the intervention until later, to give us a baseline.

PI and Co-Is

PI: Dr Yvonne Skipper, University of Glasgow - School of Education

Co-I: Dr Daniel Jolley, Northumbria University

Co-I: Dr Joe Reddington, eQuality Time

Research Assistant: Gemma Haywood

Start and End date

December 2020 - July 2021

Funder and Funding amount

Not Equal