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Lesson 2.5: Social Media

Students will consider how social media differs from and is similar to other ways of sharing news and information.

1. A 2019 Reuters/University of Oxford report found that 52% of Canadians trust the news on traditional media. Conversely, trust of news on social media is only 20%. Canada’s Digital Democracy Project found a very similar trend in 2019. Ask students to consider why social media is less-trusted than traditional media.

2. Read History Repeating? The Rise of Digital Media.
• Do we treat people the same way online as we do in person? If not, how does this damage ourselves as a society?
• The internet has allowed almost everyone to have a platform to challenge dominant narratives. What are the benefits and drawbacks of this?

3. To close discussion on the importance of the internet to public discourse, think back to Lesson 1.3, Public Goods and Services. SaskTel is owned and controlled by the public, providing most of the province with internet and mobile access.
• Is it important for democracy that SaskTel remains a public good?
• Given the internet’s central role in informing citizens, should internet access become a true public good: available to everyone at no charge?

4. Deeper insights into social media’s role in understanding government and political issues can be found in “Do the People Know Best?” in Lesson 4 of Direct Democracy.

5. Check out the CBC's excellent two-part series to help students understand and identify “fake news.”

6. Kirsten Kozolanka and Paul Orlowski’s Media Literacy for Citizenship: A Canadian Perspective is useful for more deeply considering how to analyse media messages. Find it at your public library.

History Repeating? The Rise of Digital Media

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