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Rogue Twitter Accounts Discussion

We’re all struggling to talk about veracity of news in our classrooms. A couple weeks ago, our blog discussed tips you can use to help your students distinguish between real and fake news. Now, a new category of Twitter accounts has added another layer of confusion for students – rouge Twitter accounts.

A new, unverified account @AltNatParkService appeared in late January, and many more have followed from individual national parks and other governmental agencies. These accounts drew thousands of followers within the first few hours. According to CNN, there are now over 50 “unofficial” or “alternative” accounts purporting to represent the views of government staffers or agencies.

The accounts often feature scientific facts, interesting facts about the department, and opinion on hot-topic scientific issues, like global warming.

These rogue Twitter accounts bring an interesting light to the digital age, since we can now get our news anywhere. They also give us, what could be, an “insider perspective” to what US government employees think is important for the public to know.

It is not known whether these accounts are actually run by government employees, or friends of the different agencies. So, while these accounts may provide opinions and often times, humor, these should not be relied on as a reliable source of news.

These Twitter accounts should still be looked at with the same critical eye as news articles – it’s important to verify news received from these tweets from multiple sources.

The Eduro team is thinking and talking about these these Twitter accounts as an especially relevant and interesting topic for discussion in classrooms. You might want to have a conversation with your students centered around these prompts:

  • Are these rogue Twitter accounts doing the right thing?
  • What do these accounts mean for free speech? And what does this mean for democracy?

Giving your students these authentic, real life, and real time examples to discuss may help bring the ideas of free speech and democracy to light in ways we may not have access to before. If you do give these prompts a try, let us know how the conversation goes! What did your students say? What are they thinking? And how were you able to guide that very complicated conversation?

Interested in what they have to say? Here’s a list of the alternative Twitter accounts.

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