Media and information literacy is the ability to access, create, evaluate, interpret and share media content or information. It is crucial particularly to a society with lower literacy, especially for those with a less developed media and information ecosystem.
With the ongoing armed conflict and disinformation being rife, media and information literacy become even more important for those in Ethiopia.
Last week HaqCheck was engaged in a number of media literacy campaigns and activities to mark the tenth annual Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) week. The annual global media and information literacy event was designated by UNESCO in cooperation with the UNESCO MIL Alliance, the UNESCO-UNAOC MIL and Intercultural Dialogue (MILID) University Network, and other partners in 2012.
This year’s gathering was held in South Africa from 24 to 31 October 2021, with the slogan “Media and Information Literacy for The Public Good”.
The concept of media and information literacy was coined by UNESCO in 2007. It includes all competencies regarding information and media literacy that also include digital or technological literacy. According to UNESCO, it focuses on different and intersecting competencies to transform people’s interaction with information and learning environments online and offline.
As media and information literacy is one of the areas that we focus on, HaqCheck organized a media and information literacy campaign throughout the week.
Across popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, and YouTube, it seems that the major forces that help disinformation dissemination are social media users that have lower media and information literacy. Most of the users that share false and fabricated social media posts don’t seem to have knowledge regarding the issue. They just believe it and share it with others.
The actors who intentionally fabricate and post false disinformation are few in number while the amount of social media users who consume and share the information unknowingly are large. This implies a wider gap in media and information literacy among Ethiopian social media users.
HaqCheck committed resources to organize activities in order to raise awareness of media and information literacy during the week.
HaqCheck had used different ways for media and information literacy awareness creation, including mainstream media, social media, and awareness creation outreaches.
Outreaches and Brochures
HaqCheck prepared brochures and distributed them to raise awareness on information disorder types. We highlighted the types of false information which are disseminated in Ethiopia, and how they massively circulate, as well as underlining the skills required to identify and prevent false information.
We brief and counsel people across some of the streets of Addis, to raise their awareness and skills regarding identifying and avoiding disinformation trolls.
Online Training: The Basics of Fact-checking
HaqCheck gave a training session for social media users on how to identify and check false information during a conflict. The training was held on Facebook. We gave tips to social media users on how to spot false information before they consume or share it, and show skills to identify which information is ‘fact checkable and which is not. This was in addition to practical steps to help with fact-checking and verifying information.
Many social media claims use false images in their posts to deceive users into believing the claim. HaqCheck provided training on how to fact-check images and undertake reverse image searches which are embedded in claims.
HaqCheck hosted a discussion on Clubhouse, a trending audio communication social networking site, about disinformation and the lack of media literacy during the conflict in Ethiopia. The discussion included guests with different skills and backgrounds where communication experts and media literacy advocates – as well as fact-checkers – shared their points to address the issue.
HaqCheck also organized a media and information literacy campaign by collaborating with TV channels and radio broadcasters to raise awareness during the week. Fact-checkers at HaqCheck gave interviews regarding the matter for TV stations such as Walta TV, Prime Media, VOA Amharic and radio stations like Ethio-FM and Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC)-radio.
Our fact-checkers explained the nature and metamorphosis of disinformation trends and their impacts in Ethiopia. They elaborate on the challenges of information disorder going forward.
The overall activities were a starting point to raise the conversation and to create awareness. However, HaqCheck believes that the issue is not talked about enough and plans to do larger campaigns in the future to raise the public’s media and information literacy. To do that, we believe dedication to the issue and collaboration between stakeholders is needed.
HaqCheck is a local multilingual fact-checking project based in Ethiopia, formed inside Addis Zeybe’s newsroom, now Inform Africa’s Counter Disinformation Project – a board-led Civil Society Organization (CSO) – dedicated to verifying media contents from social to the mainstream. HaqCheck works in collaboration with media outlets to monitor media contents in English and four local languages (Amharic, Afaan Oromo, Tigrigna, and Somali).
This report is produced with the support of UNESCO under the #CoronavirusFacts: Addressing the ‘Disinfodemic’ on COVID-19 in conflict-prone Environments that the UNESCO Addis Ababa Office is implementing in Ethiopia with financial support from the European Union (EU). The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO or the EU concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city, or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The ideas and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNESCO or The European Union and do not commit these organizations in any way.