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Teaching Critical Reading and Writing in the Era of Fake News

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Edited By Ellen C. Carillo and Alice S. Horning

This collection offers support for instructors who are concerned about students’ critical literacy abilities. Attending to critical reading to help students navigate fake news, as well as other forms of disinformation and misinformation, is the job of instructors across all disciplines, but is especially important for college English instructors because students’ reading problems play out in many and varied ways in students’ writing. The volume includes chapters that analyze the current information landscape by examining assorted approaches to the wide-ranging types of materials available on and offline and offers strategies for teaching critical reading and writing in first-year composition and beyond. The chapters herein bring fresh perspectives on a range of issues, including ways to teach critical digital reading, ecological models that help students understand fake news, and the ethical questions that inform teaching in such a climate. With each chapter offering practical, research-based advice this collection underscores not just the importance of attending to reading, particularly in the era of fake news, but precisely how to do so.

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12. How Information Finds Us: Hyper-Targeting and Digital Advertising in the Writing Classroom

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DAN LAWRENCE

The purpose of this chapter is to emphasize the importance of taking time with our students to explore how information finds us. Yes, we want to show our students our library resource portals and how to identify credible, peer-reviewed information. Composition instructors have been doing this for decades and it remains incredibly significant (Connors, 1997). But with the relatively new, emergent phenomenon of highly-targeted digital advertisements, there is another side of these issues, one that involves ethos and credibility. A person may see thousands of advertisements a day. Many are well disguised as content marketing or native advertising. Some are commercial, some are political, and some are ideological. Most are delivered through advanced targeting using troves of user data, demographic information, and geographical parameters. We can help our students explore how they have been targeted and for what purposes.

We can encourage our students to think about procedural rhetoric and actually experiment with these targeting tools in the classroom, such as the Facebook Advertising Manager, to help students better understand how they are targeted by companies, organizations, political parties, foreign governments, and individuals. The Facebook Advertising Manager is a web-based tool that allows organizations, companies, and individuals to design, schedule, and target advertisements. Advertisements are targeted at other Facebook users, Instagram users, or across Facebook’s third-party advertising network. Anyone can run an advertisement on Facebook or its subsidiary company ←179 | 180→Instagram, and the companies do little to regulate their advertisements, if...

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