Jan 25, 2022 - Technology

America's kids get an internet librarian

Illustration of a hand cursor resting on the pages of an open book.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

NewsGuard, a service that uses trained journalists to rate news and information sites, will become available to millions of public school students this week through a partnership with the American Federation of Teachers.

Why it matters: Kids increasingly turn to the internet when looking for homework help or doing research for school projects. But unlike books in a library or articles in a journal, online resources can be difficult to filter for quality and misinformation.

  • "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," says NewsGuard co-founder Steven Brill.
  • "That's the internet, that's your Facebook feed, that's your Google search."
  • NewsGuard hopes its ratings will help students and teachers get smarter about the news and information online.

What's happening: The AFT teachers union is buying NewsGuard licenses for its 1.7 million teachers, who will then be able to share it with tens of millions students around the country.

  • "We are constantly trying to help our students, particularly our middle, high school and postsecondary students, separate fact from fiction, as we help them develop their critical-thinking and analytical skills," AFT president Randi Weingarten says.

The bottom line: The hope is that students with the skills to spot disinformation will grow into more thoughtful and better-informed citizens and voters.

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