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July 28, 2022

How New Technologies Accelerate Spread of Conspiracy Theories

Ask Students: When did the era of Web 1 begin? What is Web 3? And who is the QAnon Shaman?


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If tech-industry watchers are right we’ll soon be living in the metaverse. Glimpses of the virtual environment are already among us, from virtual concerts and fashion to popular immersive games. While the virtual world could revolutionize work and play, it could also supercharge conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns. Dot Dot Dot Media CEO Laurie Segall joins Geoff Bennett to discuss. For a transcript of the story, click here.

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Five Facts

  • When did the era of Web 1 begin?
  • What is Web 3?
  • Who is the QAnon Shaman?
  • Why did the young man in rural Michigan join the extremist group?
  • How could a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) be used for good and for bad? 

Focus Questions

How does Web 3 lead to the increased spread of conspiracies online? How does it endanger not only youth, but also our larger communities?

Media literacy: How is the topic of conspiracy theories relevant to other prominent news stories occurring today?

For More

What students can do

PBS NewsHour Classroom has a variety of lesson plans teaching students how to approach misinformation, identify conspiracies, and increase media literacy. Three are linked below:

  1. Lesson plan: Build a ‘media literacy survival kit’
  2. Lesson plan: How to fight truth decay through media literacy
  3. Lesson plan: An experiment in misinformation

Learn more about the connection between conspiracy theories and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot through this article.

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

Digital Wellbeing and Social Media

Use this collection of preK-16 resources to dive deeper on the algorithmic biases that can cause direct harm to young people as well as foster literacy and safety online.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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