Europe Is Ready to Go to War against Fake News

ATTENTION
This content is recommended for 30~60 minute sessions. Note that tutors may not be familiar with the content. Make sure you consult with your tutor before using this material. 


Article

After a quick greeting, read the following article out loud. Your tutor will go over pronunciation if necessary.

Photo: Jai79/Pixabay

[P1] The European Commission is ready to crack down on social media companies that allow fake news to be spread on their platform, reports the Financial Times. The EC sees the spread of fake news across social media as one of the biggest threats to its democratic systems and is concerned how it will be weaponized to subvert European elections next year. As a result the European commissioner for security, Julian King, is calling for a “clear game plan” on how social media platforms are allowed operate during election periods. Specifically, the European commissioner wants:

  • more transparency on the internal algorithms that social media companies use to promote stories
  • limits on the harvesting of personal information for political purposes
  • disclosure by tech companies that are funding “sponsored content” on their sites

[P2] In a letter written after the Facebook scandal broke, King wrote that the “psychometric targeting activities” of Cambridge Analytica are just a “preview of the profoundly disturbing effects such disinformation could have on the functioning of liberal democracies . . . It is clear that the cyber-security threat we are facing is changing from one primarily targeting systems to one that is also increasingly about deploying cyber-means to manipulate behavior, deepen societal divides, subvert our democratic systems, and raise questions about our democratic institutions.”

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/40552913/europe-is-ready-to-go-to-war-against-fake-news

Vocabulary

Read the word/expression and definition out loud. Your tutor will go over anything you do not understand. Practice creating a sentence or two to make sure you know how to use the word/expression properly.

Vocabulary/ Expressions

Expression Definition
crack down (p.v) to start to be strict about punishing people for doing something that is illegal or not allowed : to enforce a law or rule more strictly
e.g. Authorities are cracking down on companies that pollute.
subvert (v) to secretly try to ruin or destroy a government, political system, etc.
e.g. They conspired to subvert the government.
call for (p.v) to say or demand publicly that something is needed or should be done
e.g. The opposition has called for an investigation.
game plan (n) a plan for doing or achieving something
e.g. The governor is developing a game plan to lure businesses to the region.
deploy (v) to organize and send out (people or things) to be used for a particular purpose
e.g. He deploys several arguments to prove his point.

Discussion Questions

Use the following questions as a guideline to help develop an interesting conversation with your tutor. Feel free to diverge from these suggestions if anything interesting comes up.

  1. Summarize the article in your own words.
  2. What do you know about fake news and the Facebook scandal? Share your knowledge with your tutor.
  3. Do you think fake news was a concern 100 years ago when social media didn’t exist?
  4. Are you concerned about fake news? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with your Cambly tutor!

Wrap-up

Go over any new expressions or vocabulary that you learned today.

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