The country vaccinating against misinformation

In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) brought to light the concept of “immunize” people against misinformation during the Covid-19 pandemic. The United Nations’ “Pause. Be careful before you share” campaign also encouraged people to check sources before sharing content online.

WHO officials also worked with 50 digital businesses and social media platforms including Facebook, TikTok, Google, Viber, WhatsApp and YouTube to ensure WHO health information appears first in searches on social media feeds, while giving users a way to report misinformation when they meet them.

In 2020, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also warned against cyber security threats during the pandemic lockdown, especially when people were working or studying remotely. He created a “Online Zoo website for kids who used cartoons and videos to teach them about cybersecurity.

There are other global media literacy initiatives such as the European Commission Media Literacy Week and the National Information Literacy Week in the United States, which took place earlier this month. Unesco, the United Nations educational and cultural agency, also sponsors a media literacy week and promotes online media literacy Classes.

In Estonia, there are signs that all education is having an effect, according to Kumpas. Estonia has some of the highest media skills in Europe, according to some assessments and its young people seem consume the news differently to their contemporaries in some other countries (although there are some signs that these differences are diminishing). Kumpas, however, points to the increased awareness of the problems misinformation can cause as the real victory.

“Misinformation and disinformation are real threats,” he says. “Media literacy is no longer something we have to sell. It’s something people demand.”

* Amy Yee has been writing about disinformation and media literacy for several years as a freelance journalist. With the support of the Solution Journalism Network, she created a video “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a cat” to highlight the need for greater awareness of online sources of information. It can be found at @amyyeewrites

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