S.C. lawmaker proposes bill that would teach students about spotting “fake news”

Rep. Seth Rose says lessons on media literacy are necessary to help revamp public education in the state

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —With more children accessing news and information on social media, one state lawmaker wants them to learn what they see might not always be the truth.

State Rep. Seth Rose (D-Richland County) has pre-filed a bill that would incorporate media literacy lessons into schools across the state. Rep. Bill Clyburn (D-Aiken County) has signed on as a co-sponsor.

Rose said in order to properly educate a growing number of students accessing information online, they need to have the right skills to determine fact from fiction.

“We know more and more children are getting their information from social media and all the platforms, and so there’s a real concern out there that we want to make sure our children are able to distinguish a fact from opinion,” Rose said. 

States like Rhode Island, Connecticut, and California have passed similar legislation aimed at teaching students how to avoid fake news.

Rose’s bill would not necessarily force schools to create a media literacy course, but would start a dialogue with the South Carolina Department of Education to find the best way to teach students about reliable news sources.

“I want us to be on the forefront. We don’t need to be on the back-end of everything. We need to improve our public education system, but this needs to be encompassed,” Rose said.

Even though Rose’s bill would focus solely on schools, one institution that has seen success with media literacy has been Richland Library, which has a new software on their computers aimed at tackling fake news right at the source.

“For folks to be able to have access to a browser extension that allows them to see what their viewing online is reliable, really helps not only with not only having them become more-informed citizens, but also helps them participate in democracy,” said Emily Stoll, the Community and Media Relations Coordinator for Richland Library.

Regardless if students learn those skills in a classroom or in a library, Rose says it’s important that students are equipped with the knowledge to spot fake news online.

“I would like for us not to have two out of 10 graduating seniors not being able to distinguish a fact from opinion when they’re getting the vast majority of their information from social media. I think this would go a long way and it’s something very practical they will get from their education,” Rose said.

The bill is currently sitting in the House Committee on Education and Public Works.

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