BEE SECURE takes a deep dive into disinformation at the Privacy Salon

  • Awareness
  • 28/03/2019
  • Luxembourg Safer Internet Centre

The Luxembourg digital Privacy Salon is a free event about privacy in a digital context, intended for everyone, where no prior technical expertise is assumed. It takes place around 10 times a year with a different topic each time and has been running for six years, with formal support from BEE SECURE (coordinators of the Luxembourg Safer Internet Centre (SIC)) since 2017.

The most recent Salon focused on disinformation and was held in the framework of BEE SECURE events for the recent European Media Literacy Week. This Salon, titled "Deep dive into disinformation", took the EU Action Plan against Disinformation as a starting point, explaining to participants that this type of event for the public fell within the broader context of the action plan, and was especially important in the run up to the European elections, taking place in May 2019, where the topic of disinformation is of increased relevance.
 
Using the Action Plan definition of disinformation, "Disinformation is understood as verifiably false or misleading information that is created, presented and disseminated for economic gain or to intentionally deceive the public, and may cause public harm", the presenters presented lively examples and addressed different types of disinformation. They stressed the importance of empowering internet users to identify it and, equally, how individuals can contribute to diminishing the spread of disinformation.
 
The presenters also showed how algorithmically-generated faces can be used for fake profiles using a true or false game; the attendees had to identify which faces shown were real or generated. Further practical participation followed with attendees being asked to name places by examining photographs and the information contained within them such as architecture, signs, vehicle license plates, and so on.
 
These activities were delivered in the context of the type of media literacy skills that are needed to be able to verify information, especially of the type posted on social media, which people often re-distribute without thoroughly checking sources and provenance. Furthermore, people sometimes unintentionally reinforce the spread of disinformation by sharing a post in order to falsify it; however, this then acts as a trigger to social media algorithms to rank the disinformation as important to spread. A solution for this is to post a screenshot of the post instead of the original.
 
Fact checking and open source investigation sites were also explored, with the presenters demonstrating some sites dedicated to teaching people how to acquire the skills necessary to be able to navigate digital information successfully.
 
The enthusiastic audience enjoyed the investigative challenges, finding that critical thinking capacities were the most important skills needed to be able to tackle disinformation. With the "formal" part of the session over, most stayed to discuss the topic further over snacks and drinks.
 
This type of event can provide a way of reaching members of the general public who, often, are not the target of "official" messages on complex topics. Due to the network effect, the attendees tend to pass on the knowledge acquired to friends, family and colleagues, and can become trusted sources themselves.
 
Find further information on the Privacy Salon at www.privacysalon.lu, or discover links to the sources used in the "Deep dive into disinformation" Privacy Salon.
 
Find out more information about the work of the Luxembourg Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

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