Media literacy is a crucial skill all media consumers must have. There are many factors that can change how we interpret media, and how media affects us, and there are a few main skills that can aid consumers in being more media literate like willingness to try and having an ability to distinguish reactions. Understanding the differences between mediated and non-mediated media and their implications is also important to media literacy.
Media literacy is the method of dissecting media content in order to critically analyze it. To do this, it is essential to look at media content’s underlying messages, its ownership and regulation, as well as how it is presented. This is not an easy process and has no stopping point.
The resent workshop on Media and Information Literacy organized by Africa Center for People, Institution and Society (ACEPIS) and UNESCO East Africa was very enriching. I got exposed to very valuable insights and lessons on how to tackle fake information especially those around the current pandemic (COVID-19). The COVID-19 reporting has been characterized by fake and unverified information. As such, knowledge on fact checking and information verification is not only important but a must-acquire skill especially in the age of social media buzz. The training helped me understand the CONCEPTS OF INFORMATION DISORDER which include:
- MISINFORMATION — information that is false, but the person disseminating it believes it is true.
- DISINFORMATION — information that is false, and the person disseminating it knows it is and deliberately, intentionally lies.
- MAL-INFORMATION — information that is based on reality, but used to inflict harm on a person, organization, or country.
Fake media information and content manifest in a number of ways including:
- Satire or Parody which has no intention of causing harm but to fool.
- Misleading Content meant to use information to frame an issue or an individual
- Imposter content where genuine sources are impersonated
- Fabricated content which is 100% false but designed to deceive and do harm
- False connections in which the headlines, visuals and caption are at variance with the content
- False context when genuine information is shared with false contextual information
- Manipulated information where genuine information is manipulated to deceive.
During the workshop, the presenter also presented on “What Fuels Information Disorder.” They include the following.
- Unbridled enjoyment of Freedom of Speech & rights to access and share information
- Limited policy & legal framework for verification & regulating publication/sharing
- Limited access to ICTs means young people are not knowledgeable to filter and verify info they consume
- Autonomy in running social media accounts and blogs (content intermediaries) has some info purveyors going rogue
- Declining access to quality journalism (resource limitations)
For long and for short, media and information literacy is warranted especially at this time when there is rising social media penetration. While social media has plethora of uses which are positive, worrying concerns are rising regarding irresponsible use. It is the onus of every individual to use social media in manner that does not inflict harm on others or manipulate others in whatever way. Everyone is called to adopt A Critical Thinking Approach in relation to the use of social media content that can be deceiving and manipulative. This entails:
- Inquisitiveness & concern to become and remain well-informed
- Trust in the processes of reasoned inquiry (research)
- Self-confidence in one’s own abilities to reason
- Open-mindedness regarding divergent worldviews
- Flexibility in considering alternatives and opinions; appreciating opinions of other people.
- Fair-mindedness in appraising reasoning.
- Recognizing & honestly facing one’s own biases, prejudices, stereotypes, or egocentric tendencies.
- Prudence in suspending, making, or altering judgments.
- Willingness to reconsider & revise views where honest reflection suggests that change is warranted.
To learn more about media and information literacy workshop, visit Acepis website through this link. ACEPIS is organizing yet another workshop on the same between 29-30th July 2021. Kindly register and participate in this workshop. Reach out to me on WhatsApp via the phone number in the contact tab for direction on how to participate in this free training.
Remember: Don’t believe everything you read on the internet just because there is a picture and a quote next to it —Abraham Linkoln