While bringing immensurable benefits to societies and helping democratize the access to information around the globe, the advent of the internet has also brought numerous challenges. The plurality of voices, such an important and beneficial part of digital transformation, has made it difficult for people to verify the authenticity of different content published online, or to rapidly identify imposter news sites posing as established brands. Investigating and instantly coordinating the removal of fake content with media partners, raising awareness of fake news and teaching media literacy to the public are also related challenges.
Towards a Solution
In order to tackle these challenges, the Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme has partnered with the Bangladeshi National Telecommunication Monitoring Center (NTMC), the Ministry of Information, Facebook and its various partners to monitor, report, and create content on misinformation, rumormongering, and its various adverse effects on the community, identifying over one thousand and fifty such pieces of contents. Targeted contents and workshops were then created to educate target groups on media literacy and the effects of misinformation.
As misinformation and rumors run rampant during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 360 Degrees Programme is also constantly monitoring and creating digital content and campaigns to spread awareness about fake news, rumour-mongering, and the spread of misinformation. As a major part of the spread of misinformation happens through online content on social media, Facebook is closely working with a2i on this matter and taking immediate actions on reported posts and /or accounts that are partaking in spreading misinformation.
Media planning and awareness content is constantly put out as target messages to counter each identified piece of misinformation that may hinder the response to the COVID-19 pandemic at present or in the long term. The risk communication pillar has been extremely involved in monitoring the source of rumors and misinformation and creating content accordingly to make people aware of them. These awareness messages are then disseminated through various channels such as social media, miking, IVRs, Islamic Foundation, community radio, TV channels and scrolls etc.
Online workshops were also set up to educate journalists, volunteers, women’s right groups, frontline workers, and youth on, media literacy, so that they are not victims of misinformation. This is expected to have an impact on a larger scale, as people will then be reassured from a human-to-human interaction and learn not to believe all the misinformation and rumors.
Through this project a total of 12 channels have been disseminated and 339 pieces of content were developed, reaching and raising awareness among 75 million people.
This solution involves local technical experts from the government and non-government organizations, and has established a monitoring platform to ensure stable social environment in any emergency or even during normal times. This solution can easily be replicated to in order to protect society from the harmful effects of fake news and building a more stable and digitally-empowered society.