This is the latest installment of a weekly feature on this blog — lessons from the nonprofit News Literacy Project, which aims to teach students how to distinguish between what is real and what is not in an age of digital communication in which former president Donald Trump routinely denounces real news as “fake.”

The material comes from the project’s newsletter, the Sift, which takes the most recent viral rumors, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and journalistic ethics issues and turns them into timely lessons with discussion prompts and links. The Sift, which is published weekly during the school year, has more than 10,000 subscribers, most of them educators.

The News Literacy Project also offers a program called Checkology, a browser-based platform designed for students in grades six through 12 that helps prepare the next generation to easily identify misinformation. Checkology is available free to educators, students, school districts and parents. Since 2016, more than 29,000 educators and parents in all 50 states and Washington have registered to use the platform. Since August, more than 1,000 educators and parents and more than 34,000 students have actively used Checkology.

You can learn more about the News Literacy Project and all of the educational resources it provides in this piece, but here is a rundown:

Founded more than a decade ago by Alan Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter at the Los Angeles Times, the News Literacy Project is the leading provider of news literacy education.

It creates digital curriculums and other resources and works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to recognize news and information to trust — and it provides them with the tools they need to be informed and engaged participants in a democracy. It uses the standards of high-quality journalism as an aspirational yardstick against which to measure all news and information. Just as important, it provides the next generation with an appreciation of the First Amendment and the role of a free press.

Here’s material from the Jan. 25 edition of The Sift:

QAnon’s rude awakening

For adherents of the collective conspiratorial delusion called QAnon, Inauguration Day was all part of the plan — until the plan fell apart.

President Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 was widely seen among the QAnon faithful as the last chance to realize their outlandish and baseless core belief — that Trump would rise as their champion to order mass arrests of members of a satanic, child-trafficking cartel run by prominent Democrats and Hollywood celebrities. In the hours leading up to Biden’s swearing-in, QAnon believers were unfazed, predicting that the inauguration was just a ploy to bring together those who would face arrest, and that the so-called “Great Awakening” would begin just before Biden took the oath of office.

When that didn’t happen, some in the community were bewildered and angry, while others simply did what they’ve done any other time QAnon’s anonymous string of prophecies failed to come true: They recalibrated and developed new theories, such as the false and outrageous claim that Biden was already under arrest and that his swearing-in was fraudulent and had been recorded 11 hours earlier.

However, as some disinformation experts were quick to point out, the fragmenting and collapse of the QAnon community is not entirely good news. Many will likely find relief by embracing alternative conspiracy theories, while others may be particularly vulnerable to being radicalized by white supremacists and other extremist communities online.

Viral rumor rundown

NO: A military band did not play “Hit the Road Jack” in front of the White House during Trump’s final days in office.

YES: The audio track on this video has been replaced.

YES: The original video was tweeted on Jan. 18 by CNN’s Jim Acosta and shows the U.S. Army Band playing “National Emblem” as it rehearsed for the inauguration on the White House grounds.

YES: The fact-checking organization Lead Stories found that the source of the “Hit the Road Jack” audio is a 2012 recording of the Ohio State University Marching Band.

Note: Copies of this doctored video went viral on multiple platforms, including TikTok, Twitter and Facebook. It is increasingly common for misinformation to cross platforms, including iterations from one platform circulating on another.

NO: President Biden’s administration is not affiliated with the “antifa” (anti-fascist) movement.

YES: The URL “antifa.combegan redirecting traffic to the White House homepage ( on Inauguration Day.

NO: This is not evidence of any relationship between the antifa movement and the White House.

YES: Anyone can purchase a web domain and redirect it to any other website they choose.

YES: Before redirecting to, the site was redirecting to Biden’s presidential campaign website.

YES: The web domain has been intermittently active since at least 1999 and, as these search results from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine show, it was for sale as recently as Jan. 30, 2020.

Note: There is a similar URL redirect hoax at, which began forwarding its web traffic to the Wikipedia page for former president Donald Trump on Nov. 9, 2020.

★ Featured rumor resource: These classroom-ready slides lead students through a “digital forensics” investigation of the domain using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.