With an innovative online game, Drog media literacy project is teaching people how to understand disinformation phenomenon.
Presenter: Marije Arentze – Education coordinator at Drog
Media literacy is one of the key forms of action identified in response to disinformation. Education and critical thinking are regarded as an essential skill for citizens to effectively engage on social media platforms, especially when a significant part of the population is not “born digital”. Initiatives are supported to raise awareness on the manipulation of information, especially on social networks.
Drog is a multidisciplinary team of academics, journalists and media experts. They conduct research, offer workshops, educational programmes, and create innovative tools that help you build “resistance” to disinformation, using “gamification”.
“Gamification” is the application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity. Drog has used this methodology to create the social impact game Bad News, where you take on the role of a propagandist. In collaboration with the University of Cambridge they have developed this “innovative vaccine” to show you how various tactics and methods are used to spread deceitful messages. They believe the best way to cultivate a sixth sense to recognize and expose disinformation is to create it yourself.
In the game, you learn how to make fake news, spread them and maintain your credibility as a source. In a simulation of a social media timeline and news headlines, you can choose the most catching titles and try to start the most credible media. You build your strategy to grow your followers and win badges: impersonation, emotion, polarization, trolling, discredit and conspiracy.
Drog team also provides counsel to public authorities and workshops. With humour and derision, students learn how to create fake news and share it among their friends. In the context of eroding trust in the media, the aim is to teach them how to better to identify the false from the truth. People were asked to judge information as true or false before and after the game. The results have shown that players were better at spotting fake information after having played the game.
In the same humoristic vein, a “Supreme league of disinformation” was organized to simulate a disinformation campaign targeting the European elections. Though, the initiative raises questions about the effectiveness of such a theory. Won’t teaching disinformation strategy give bad ideas to bad intended people? Drog will partner with universities to analyses the effective impact of the game.
There is also a cultural challenge as media consumption habits and trust in the media differ from one country to another. Still, the game has received a lot of attention and continues its development. It will be translated in 10 languages and new projects will come out such as cooperation for an in-app game on WhatsApp.
They are also more “traditional” education approaches to media literacy by civil society organizations and journalists, online and offline. But the main challenge is to raise awareness over these initiatives and help the public from all generations and backgrounds to learn how to mindfully engage on social networks.
Marije Arentze graduated in East European Studies from the University of Amsterdam. She works at DROG, the Dutch platform for critical news consumers and creators of the Bad News Game. She regularly gives workshops and training to all sorts of audiences on how to recognise disinformation and manages international projects to contribute to DROG’s program against fake news and disinformation.