If the recent parliamentary inquiry into disinformation is anything to go by, whilst progress to combat the fake news phenomenon is being made – there is still a long journey ahead of us. So how do we tackle fake news? It cannot boil down purely to penalties and regulatory reform. As the report from The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee stresses, digital literacy, which is a partner of data literacy, is also vital and has to be a core pillar of modern education – it simply must be viewed as just as important as English or Maths throughout the curriculum. We need to be empowering children with the data skills to be able to question what they’re reading, interpret its context and, ultimately, spot fake news. Equipping them with these skills is the only way we can truly help them navigate the internet in a safer and more informed way.
However, worryingly, our research has shown that 79% of British 16-24-year-olds consider themselves to be data illiterate. This is by no means a problem restricted to the UK, with the same research revealing that only 10% of European graduates are confident in their data literacy skills.
In a world plagued by fake news, students must leave school with at least a basic understanding of how to interrogate the information they are presented with. Indeed, the government cannot afford not to recognise the importance of digital and data literacy within the education system, as the ability to read, understand, question and analyse data increasingly underpins both our personal and professional lives.
That’s why global organizations including Qlik, Accenture, Cognizant, Pluralsight and Experian have launched the Data Literacy Project. The Project aims to create the biggest collection of educational resources for data literacy, with the intention of empowering people to consider and question the information they’ve given, whether they’re at work, on social media platforms or reading the news. We hope the project will go some way to tackling the fake news phenomenon, supporting people of all ages to be safer online.