CivicsWatch arms students against fake news


In response to the volatile political climate of the current administration and the rapid spread of disinformation, De Anza College’s Office of Communications recently developed the De Anza CivicsWatch website.

Writer and editor Brandon Bailey and senior web coordinator Alex Harrell were cited by Marisa Spatafore, Associate Vice President of Communications and External Relations, as key contributors to the creation of CivicsWatch and its continuous updates.

“Because the office [of Communications], at its most essential level, provides information, we want to use that role and that charge to help deliver civic knowledge and tools,” Spatafore said. “To us, this is critical during a time when so many are disheartened about the state of the nation, the displays of hatred, the disinformation and charges of ‘fake news.’”

The website provides students with numerous tools to interact with to enhance their political knowledge.

Among these resources is a FactWatch section that debunks the gross lies told and tweeted at the highest levels through a PolitiFact feed.

On a grander scale, CivicsWatch equips its users with many more services: A News & Issues section redirects students to articles that address ongoing political developments, while a Civics 101 subsection informs readers about fundamental elements of civic engagement.

“We try to draw from different sources, making sure that we were looking at the extremes but it was important we used sources that were widely respected like New York Times or the Washington Post,” said Bailey. “We also looked for the basics, like the Constitution and other documents, as well as sites that tracked campaign contributions.”

According to Spatafore, the CivicsWatch page represents the Office of Communications taking action. One of the most prominent features of the website, the Get Involved section, reflects her sentiment of ‘taking action.’

This component prompts users to explore different manners to take action, whether it be on campus or in the community.

It highlights several on-campus organizations such as the Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action (VIDA) or The Office of Equity, Social Justice, and Multicultural Education and the California History Center at De Anza.

Not only does the website encourage students to utilize on-campus institutions but it showcases other platforms of service like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) or the Resistance School.

“The De Anza CivicsWatch website has potential to make a difference as it provides students with the resources to actively participate in their community while gaining knowledge about current political issues,” said Anuj Davé, 19, political science major.

“The idea was that students would find the site fun and engaging and would develop healthy habits to be well informed global citizens,” said Cynthia Kaufman, Director of VIDA.

Being a well-informed citizen in the modern socio-political landscape is certainly necessary, and De Anza CivicsWatch will continue to convey the importance of civic knowledge.