by Marsha Rakestraw

In the last week I’ve come across headlines telling me that a woman and her children being teargassed was staged.

That cold weather in the Northeast US proves global warming isn’t happening.

That hundreds of birds died after the test of a 5G cellular network.

None of those were true.

Despite efforts by governments, journalists, and companies to identify and curb false news, misinformation and propaganda continue to proliferate.

Studies show that we humans are quick to spread false news and that we continue to struggle to identify what’s real from what’s “fake.”

As solutionary educators, it’s important that we help our students hone their skills in critical thinking, news literacy, and evaluating resources.

Here are six free online games about true/fake news you can use to help your students combine fun and critical thinking.

For Identifying False (and True) News:

1. BBC iReporter
Players take on the role of a new BBC journalist who must work with team members to get the scoops and ensure that they’re accurate and credible before sharing. “Players must make all kinds of journalistic choices in pursuit of their scoop. Which sources should they trust? Where should they go to check their facts?” This game is informative and clever.

2. Factitious
This online game tests players at “identifying fake and misleading news stories.” Players read short articles and then choose whether or not they think the article is real. The game gives instant feedback on the correct answer and how to tell.

3. NewsFeed Defenders
This online game from The Annenburg Public Policy Center (home of iCivics and helps players “detect and disregard disinformation and misinformation in today’s chaotic environment.” The game, for older students, puts players in charge of a news aggregation site. They’re responsible for protecting integrity, while also attracting new readers. This game is more complex than some others. It includes a Teacher Extension Pack to extend the learning.

4. PolitiTruth
Made in partnership with PolitiFact, this free downloadable game asks users to swipe left or right to guess whether or not a politically related news story is true. The app also anonymously tracks responses, so that players can see how their guesses compare to others.

For Creating False News:

5. Bad News
This simple online game guides players through using strategies such as trolling, disinformation, emotion, and conspiracies to gain followers and spread false news. Players earn badges as they go along.

6. Fake It to Make It
In this complex game for older students, players create and maintain a “news” website with the goal of making as much money – and spreading as much misinformation – as possible. Players create personas, copy and spread articles, and more. The game is meant to leave players with “a better understanding of how misinformation is created, spread and emotionally targeted, so that they are more skeptical of information that they encounter in the future.”

For additional resources to help teach students about Fake News and News Literacy, check out our curated Pinterest board.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash