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Lesson: Introducing Students to Takedown Requests


Introducing Students to Takedown Requests


When the requests come – and they will come – for your student staff to take down materials already published either in print or online, what criteria will they use to make the decision – and why? Students will learn what takedown demands are, examine criteria needed to craft responses and develop guidelines for when a request occurs.


  • Students will understand the basic considerations of a takedown request.
  • Students will evaluate criteria for takedown requests and consider criteria for evaluating such requests.
  • Students will create demonstrate knowledge of specific terminology or ethical considerations relevant to takedown requests.

Common Core State Standards

Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1.C Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives. Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.


50 minutes

Materials / resources

Takedown demands? Here is a roadmap of choices, rationale

Responding to takedown demands

Internet access and student computers if available

Blackboard or whiteboard

Teacher laptop and digital projector

Handout: Ethics Takedown Demands


Lesson step-by-step

1.  Warm up—5 minutes

Ask students to consider what they would do if they edited an online news site and someone requested them remove a story he or she was quoted in. Would they comply with the request? Write down your decision and reasoning.


2. Large group—20 minutes

Students should use computers to read the following online articles individually or in pairs:

– Takedown demands? Here is a roadmap of choices, rationale on JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee site; and

Responding to Takedown Demands on the SPLC’s site

Have students take notes on the articles using the Ethics Takedown Demands Worksheet preparation for class discussion. This will prepare students to develop guidelines for a staff and ethics manuals in a later lesson.


3. Whole group—15 minutes

Discuss the following, taking notes on a whiteboard:
• What are legal considerations for taking down coverage?
• What are ethical considerations for down coverage?
• Which arguments make the most sense for your student media?
• Which alternatives create the most logical solutions for your media?
• What types of requests might lead to information removal?
• Other thoughts as locally developed.


Assessment—10-20 minutes

The class will return to the answers they gave in the warm up. How and why did their answers change? As a class, create a checklist for how, given their new knowledge, students might grade or evaluate the original answer. What keywords would they look for? What kinds of arguments or analysis? Using that checklist as a guide, ask students to go back and “grade” their initial answer, then rewrite it to earn a better evaluation according to the class’s checklist.