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Combating Misinformation through Media Literacy Conference

Author: Cyprus University of Technology

The Horizon 2020 European project Co-Inform, in collaboration with the Cyprus University of Technology, the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute of the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the US Embassy in Cyprus, organized a two-day conference entitled “Combating Misinformation Through Media Literacy” on June 7 and 8, 2019.  

The conference was aligned with the goals of the Co-Inform project, which include investigating socio-technical approaches to addressing misinformation online, as well as raising awareness and providing tools that enable online users to become more critical prosumers of media content.

The conference brought together different stakeholder groups (students, youth, teachers, policymakers and journalists) and aimed at increasing the participants’ awareness of misinformation and informing of ways in which it can be addressed using different methods and tools that can nurture critical thinking and promote better use of social media.

The conference included two public panel discussions comprised of distinguished speakers and experiential workshops that aimed to develop the participants’ skills in addressing misinformation. During the first day of the conference, elementary school students participated in interactive workshops focused on misinformation online; they engaged with a variety of information sources and through teamwork discussed media messages, who to trust, and how they can make an impact online by creating positive online content.

The first panel discussion began with a welcoming address by Professor Georgios Panigyrakis, Dean of the School of Communication and Media Studies at the Cyprus University of Technology. The discussion was titled “What can we do as citizens to limit the spread of misinformation online?” and was moderated by Nicholas Karides, Director of Ampersand Public Affairs. The panelists were: Geysha Gonzalez, Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center; Allan Leonard, Co-founder and editor-in-chief of FactCheckNI; Gemma Pinyol-Jiménez, RECI-Spanish Network of Intercultural Cities Coordinator; and Michael Bossetta, Political and Data Scientist at the University of Copenhagen.

The second day of the conference opened with welcome addresses by the Rector of the Cyprus University of Technology, Professor Andreas Anayiotos, the US Ambassador in Cyprus, Judith G. Garber, the Director of the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute, Dr Athena Michaelidou-Evripidou, and the Government Spokesman, Prodromos Prodromou. The welcome addresses were concluded with two video messages by the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, and Themis Christofidou, Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport, Culture at the European Commission.

The second panel discussion of the conference was entitled: “Combating misinformation through media literacy: The role of society and the state” and was moderated by Sophie A. Michaelides, Director of the Press and Information Office. The panelists were: Lara Orlandi, Policy Officer, DG CONNECT, Audiovisual & Media Services Policy Unit, European Commission; George Komodromos, Director, Department of Electronic Communications, Government of Cyprus; Dr Antigoni Themistokleous, Officer, Cyprus Radio Television Authority; Dr Vasilis Koulolias, Stockholm University, Director of eGovlab and project coordinator for the Co-Inform project; and Jules Darmanin, Reporter, FactcheckEU Project Coordinator.

The second day concluded with parallel workshops for teachers, journalists and policymakers. The teachers’ workshop provided information on the topic of misinformation and the role of educators in addressing the phenomenon. Educators were introduced to online lesson plan repositories, digital validation tools, fact-checking resources and were provided with educational material that can be customized and implemented in their own classes. Journalists were introduced to fact-checking sources and image verification techniques and practiced with existing online applications to debunk false news stories. Policymakers discussed the topic of misinformation and connected their own professional experiences with policies that can be created to address this complex issue.

The proliferation of misinformation on online media poses a considerable social threat that permeates all aspects of our reality. “Fake news” and misleading narratives are challenges that require constant monitoring and conscious vigilance.  The conference is one of the first in Cyprus to advocate a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to address the issue of misinformation, highlighting the importance of cooperation among various interest groups in combating misinformation. Follow-up actions, which will include a call for cross-sectoral project proposals focusing on actions that combat misinformation will be announced by late summer.

More information about the conference can be found at the conference web page at http://medialiteracy.cut.ac.cy

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Co-Inform Copyright 2019
Disclaimer

Co-inform project is co-funded by Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)
H2020-SC6-CO-CREATION-2016-2017 (CO-CREATION FOR GROWTH AND INCLUSION)
Type of action: RIA (Research and Innovation action)
Proposal number: 770302

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