Media and Information Literacy (MIL) as a real tool in the fight against information disorders, By Chiamaka Okafor

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This idea behind MIL is to help citizens, especially young people, develop the ability to critically analyze news and media messages in light of the rapid growth of information technology and Communication. This, of course, raised the question of control and regulation. There are those who argue that the way forward is to regulate the internet and social media…

In the age of digital technology, there is an overabundance of information from various sources and empowered people to consume from whatever source they please.

This ease of access must be accompanied by the ability to interact with the information in a meaningful way. Thus, the importance of media and information literacy.

In the age of information overload we currently live in, the place of media and information literacy cannot be overlooked. And for the people of Nigeria, this is particularly important as we enter fully into the election period.

This is a period characterized primarily by misinformation, which occurs when sources of information distort it with the intent to harm or mislead.

Characteristic of this era of information disorder in which we find ourselves, there is the preponderance of deep fakes and the like resulting from the manipulation of technology. Yet, not to misunderstand its role, technology is a superpower that positively affects us when used correctly for the right reasons.

What is special about the age of information disorder is how things take rapid turns, with disinformation becoming disinformation, which becomes disinformation again, in a continuous vicious cycle.

People spread misinformation/misinformation (commonly known as fake news) for a variety of reasons, including for fun (influence), to gain political advantage or economic gain for others – including some mainstream media, which incites people to click on their websites as a way to boost site visits and therefore attract advertisements.

Media and information literacy, a new area of ​​engagement developed by UNESCO, aims to help citizens understand the different dimensions and impacts of information disorders in society. MIL is key to understanding the full range of the phenomenon and what citizens need to know to counter the disorder.

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MIL considers the power of technology and the vulnerability/vulnerability/sensitivity of citizens if they do not understand how media and technology work. When it comes to NDE, “control” is empowerment rather than restriction; ‘control’ is about people’s ability to understand the power of the media, their own power to receive the right kind of information and to share the right kind of information.

This idea behind MIL is to help citizens, especially young people, develop the ability to critically analyze news and media messages in light of the rapid growth of information technology and Communication. This, of course, raised the question of control and regulation. Some argue that the way forward is to regulate the internet and social media by allowing the state and government agencies to put in place policies or laws that guide how citizens interact through these information platforms.

However, control is not the way to go. Since we cannot control technology, it is nearly impossible to control how people relate to or use technology. Therefore, the solution is that instead of imposing restrictions, which would raise concerns about limiting the boundaries of freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of association, people should be equipped with MIL skills to understand the media and their messages.

This understanding has become imperative due to the instantaneous nature of social media, where most of the world’s population with internet access, especially young people, spend their time and get informed. It’s fast, it’s immediate, and its spread is beyond our comprehension.

Social media is also multi-dimensional, allowing citizens to share stories from multiple platforms at the same time with millions of people all over the world. This is where the imperative of media and information literacy lies.

MIL considers the power of technology and the vulnerability/vulnerability/sensitivity of citizens if they do not understand how media and technology work. When it comes to NDE, “control” is empowerment rather than restriction; ‘control’ is about people’s ability to understand the power of the media, their own power to receive the right kind of information and to share the right kind of information.

Media and information literacy seeks to do three things: help citizens know where to go to get the right information; equip citizens with the skills and understanding of media messages to analyze/synthesize information critically; develop the capacity of citizens to develop their own messages to counter false information.

MIL is like the five journalistic Ws and Hs, which help journalists improve their stories. MIL skills make citizens more informed, more aware, as they raise questions about the source of the information they encounter, who produced the materials, for what purpose and for what interests. After asking these questions, citizens are in a good position to say whether the information they receive is genuine or not.

MIL provides lifelong skills that can be deployed in all aspects of life. For the young people who are its primary focus, the need for early exposure to what NDE does cannot be overstated.

As Nigeria welcomes countries from around the world to the Federal Capital Territory over the next few days (24-31 October) to discuss how to nurture and develop various angles of MIL, it is important that parties with diverse interests pay attention to how they can make or break the country through their use of information.

In the era of social media, but also of elections and campaigns in Nigeria, MIL is helping young people to become critical consumers of messages, who ask questions about the authenticity of information, verification, etc.

Helping young people become media and information savvy citizens is an important lifelong skill. This translates into the ability to understand, control and apply information.

In light of the upcoming Nigerian General Elections in 2023, the UNESCO Global MIL Week on the theme “Nurturing Trust: A Media and Information Literacy Imperative” could not have happened at a time more perfect.

As Nigeria welcomes countries from around the world to the Federal Capital Territory over the next few days (24-31 October) to discuss how to nurture and develop various angles of MIL, it is important that parties with diverse interests pay attention to how they can make or break the country through their use of information.

It will also help the young people who have become so politically aware and involved in recent times to be able to sift through the barrage of information and materials that activists are throwing at them in order to make informed and independent decisions on who the next Nigerian leader should be. .

And for the rest of the world, we must now ask ourselves: what confidence do the people of the world have after the tides of recent years?

At a time when democracy is experiencing various forms of threats to its existence, this is yet another opportunity to assess how we deploy technology for greater good or less evil or greater evil and lesser good.

Chiamaka Okafor reports for PREMIUM TIMES and @mackieokafor tweets.

This article is taken from a thesis entitled Virality of fake news.


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