Fake News

Offline & Connected
Offline & Connected

Participants will explore the phenomenon of “viral video” circulating on the internet, the accompanying images, words, stories, etc., their impact on society, their accuracy, validity, and reliability, and the importance of cautious and safe internet surfing.



Start off the activity by asking the participants whether or not they’ve seen a “viral” video or photo on the internet. Likely most of them, if not all, will say yes. Next, ask them if they’ve seen one within the last week. Have they ever shared one with a friend (retweeted, posted on wall, tagged, etc.)? Have they ever seen a viral video or photo that turned out to not be true? Did they guess or find out some other way?


  1. Show the participants the Real or Fake? Flashcards and have them guess which viral photos are real and which are fake. Encourage them to explain how they reached that conclusion.
  2. After each card, reveal whether they got it right and discuss whether the reasoning for their answer was reasonable or not.
  3. Ask the participants: Why does it matter if we’re wrong about viral news? Give them a few moments to discuss, and then show them the next set of flashcards. This time, two images will be shown side by side and the participants are meant to spot the difference between them.
  4. After a few seconds, reveal the difference and the context behind the photo (written on the back of the card). Let them know that anything on the internet can be viral: news, health tips, celebrity stories, etc. and it can be difficult to figure out what to believe.


  • This activity could easily be broken up into smaller sections to better fit the time you have. Instead of doing steps 1 through 3, try just doing just one step. The participants will still get the same message as long as it’s framed appropriately.
  • Use the viral images here or look for your own, but avoid having the participants search for them on their own as a caution for turning up inappropriate images.


  • The only perceivable safety concern would be around the ‘Modify’ section and allowing participants to search for their own viral images. If doing this, be sure to supervise their searches and implement parental controls for internet use.


Show them the last flashcard and ask them how they would decide to share this story with a friend or not. Go through the steps to figure it out:

  • Does it use loaded language? (Words that make you feel a certain way: angry, sad, etc.)
  • Is it trying to get me to buy something?
  • Who is spreading it?
  • Is there a source given?
  • Does it seem too good to be true?

Answer the questions to the best of your ability and if you can, try a web search with a few keywords to see if you can better answer the questions. 

Johnson, Matthew. “Authentication Beyond the Classroom.” MediaSmarts: Canada’s Centre for Media and Digital Literacy. Retrieved May 3 2018, online from http://mediasmarts.ca/teacher-resources/authentication-beyond-classroom