As the world grapples with a raging pandemic, information literacy—the capacity to critically evaluate content for its quality and usefulness—has become crucial and the cornerstone to survival and recovery. Disinformation and misinformation erode trust in public institutions, exacerbate class conflict, foment fear and hatred, weaken the credibility of our institutions, embolden hostile actors, and jeopardize our very democracies. The spread of propaganda and conspiracy theories is not a new phenomenon, of course, but the technologies and platforms that now connect billions of people around the world have enabled the creation and rapid dissemination of more sophisticated and dangerous forms of distortion than ever before. The growing scope and scale of the threat posed by disinformation and misinformation is seen in politics, health, the environment, and technology, among other areas of society. This Concordia Live dove into CollaborateUp’s preliminary research results on this global threat.
What would you like to see differently in corporate policy or in public policy when it comes to how we deal with misinformation?
Salzman responds that the solution is to educate our children. Teaching media literacy is just as critical as teaching mathematics. Children should be encouraged to think critically and analytically, as well as learn how to validate and identify what is an objective fact. The key relies in teaching them how to differentiate between facts and opinions.
Where do you see media literacy is working? What might be brought to scale?
Weninger challenges Salzman opinion and states that even though media literacy is important for children, they often can understand the topic substantially better than their parents do. He instead suggests that the target for teaching media literacy are those new to the digital age (mainly adults and mature adults).
Replying to the main question, Weninger mentions that gamification is working as an effective tool to combat misinformation. In one initiative in Indonesia there is a game that simulates a WhatsApp group where people are encouraged to politely combat misinformation within their friend groups. There is another game in England called Harmony Square that teaches people in an interactive way how misinformation spreads and what they can do to combat it.
What can the audience do differently? What behavior that I could change personally would help with combatting misinformation
Takehiko Nakao – Act as responsible agents when spreading information. Advocate for public policies that regulate tech platforms and their negative monopolistic behaviors.
Marian Salzman – Trust but verify and look for source materials.
Tim Weninger – Realize that you are the editor of your friends’ news. Recognize and be on the lookout for people who are trying to trick you.