Fighting Misinformation: Digital Media Literacy
1: The Misinformation Threat
Democracy depends on a well-informed, discerning electorate, equipped to judge the validity of the information available. In this first lecture, Ms. Susman-Peña and her esteemed colleagues at IREX delve into the concepts of misinformation and disinformation, and explain the critical ways in which falsehoods, slander, prejudice, and bad ideas can threaten American democracy.
2: The Evolution of Media and Misinformation
Options for news sources have expanded exponentially in the digital age. Content is at our fingertips from traditional news sources, but anyone can now be a publisher of information on the internet, and computer algorithms are influencing what you see every day. How do we sort the legitimate news from false, misleading, or opinion content? Travel with your instructors through the history of communication technology as you learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
3: Misinformation and the Brain
Humans often fail to critically evaluate the world around us. Take a close look at the machinations of misinformation, and how it can be used in conjunction with our natural cognitive biases to lead us astray. Learn about the role of reality distortion, the “Barnum effect,” selective recall, and confirmation bias in misinformation, and how techniques like “Label to Disable” and “Care before You Share” can help.
4: Seeing Through Visual Misinformation
Visual images have been selected, edited, reframed—even manipulated—before they reach us, often in ways designed to elicit an emotional response. Explore the impact of reuse and mislabeling, photo selection effect, and deliberate alteration or forgery to affect how we see and feel about an image. Then, employ Label to Disable to diffuse the threat of visual misinformation.
5: Countering Fakes and Stereotypes in Media
How do fake information and stereotypes combine to produce an especially damaging type of misinformation? Fake information, including fake social media accounts, fake chat messages, and fake reviews, can infiltrate our electronic lives. See how stereotypes can magnify the damage done by fake information, and consider the difficult questions presented by the human tendency toward bias.
6: Journalistic Verification Skills
Your ability to differentiate between fact and opinion and to judge the quality of media content is vital to a functional democracy. You do not have to go it alone. Learn how the professionals test and verify information, as well as what websites, plug-ins, and tactics can help you determine journalistic integrity and accuracy of information.
7: Assessing Science and Health News
How can we make good decisions about important health and science issues if we cannot trust the news we get about them? Scientific knowledge, by its very nature, is always changing, but using some simple methods described in this segment, you can ascertain the validity of health and science information.
8: Technology, Misinformation, and the Future
The rise of new technology has led to a simultaneous, exponential increase in misinformation—locally, nationally, and even internationally. Learn how artificial intelligence and augmented reality programs are being used to spread misinformation, and how media literacy, Label to Disable, and Care before You Share can be used to combat its spread.
About Tara Susman-Peña
About Mehri Druckman
Mehri Druckman is a media literacy and training development expert who combines deep knowledge of anti-propaganda programming, effective media support, community engagement, and the application of technology to improve development outcomes with field-tested training methodologies. In 2015, she designed and managed IREX’s innovative Learn to Discern project, a citizen media literacy initiative that reached more than 15,000 Ukrainians. Learn to Discern has since been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The Wilson Quarterly, The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda, Project Syndicate, Columbia Journalism Review, and in reports by the Center for European Policy Analysis and the Legatum Institute.
A skilled facilitator and trainer accustomed to operating in rapidly changing political and social environments, Ms. Druckman is a leader in IREX’s global efforts to build resilience against misinformation and disinformation. She is also a leader in IREX’s effort to apply global information, communications technology, and new media toward individual and organizational capacity building, community development, public access to information, and citizen engagement.
About Nina Oduro
Nina Oduro develops and facilitates training for young leaders, educators, and community organizers. She is currently a lead trainer for IREX’s Learn to Discern U.S. initiative and supports curriculum design and delivery alongside IREX’s partners. Ms. Oduro developed IREX’s first comprehensive training guide, drawing on 50 years of the organization’s experience with training as well as industry best practices. Using the guide to support training-skills development throughout IREX, she built a cadre of expert trainers around the world. She has provided technical training support for various programs.
Ms. Oduro began her career in youth leadership development and training at Columbia University; the Posse Foundation; and the United States Embassy in Accra, Ghana, where she advised and trained young leaders for academic success and positive individual and community impact. As a leading consultant with Microsoft, she developed and facilitated training for U.S.-based educators in K-12 schools that enabled them to effectively leverage technology to achieve positive learning outcomes.