More Dangerous than Technology

 I don’t know about you, but I am really worried! I am worried when I read about democracies being threatened due to misinformation, strategic fake news, the lack of critical thinking skills of citizens (of all ages) and information illiteracy… and not just here in the United States, but a worldwide problem.

Information and Media Literacy for 2020 and Beyond

I shared my worries a few weeks ago, as I was diving deeper into information, media and news literacies. As the 2020 election in the United States approaches, so are my concerns. As the gap between political parties is continue to widen, families, friends and neighbors are growing further and further apart, increasingly incapable of talking with each other, finding it impossible to see the others’ point of view.

I sincerely hope that the issue of information, media and news literacies is not being dismissed as the problem of one party line or the other. I am hoping, I will be able to present the issue at hand from a non-political point of view, but through the lens of EDUCATION.

Let me share with you the New York Times video with Claire, Wardle, an expert in online manipulation. [ Amazing that there is such a thing as an “expert in online manipulation”.]

Claire Wardle responds to growing alarm around “deepfakes” — seemingly realistic videos generated by artificial intelligence. First seen on Reddit with pornographic videos doctored to feature the faces of female celebrities, deepfakes were made popular in 2018 by a fake public service announcement featuring former President Barack Obama. Words and faces can now be almost seamlessly superimposed. The result: We can no longer trust our eyes.

What Claire Wardle is able to articulate well, in my opinion, is that the issue is not the technology, which is manipulating videos to the point, that it is impossible for most people to tell the difference between fake and true, but that the bigger problem goes much further than this. Her points are:

-How do we, as a society, respond to the idea that we can’t trust what we see or hear?

-If anything can be fake, it becomes much easier for the guilty to dismiss the truth as fake.

-What about lies and actions, people get away with by exploiting widespread skepticism to their own advantage?

-As public trust in institutions, like the media, education, and elections dwindles, then democracy itself becomes unsustainable.

-If we are fear mongering, if we are hyperbolic, if we are waving our hands in the air, that itself can be part of the problem.

I recognize these problems every day as, I watch the news, read social media feeds, overhear people out in public.

What do we do? I know, from an educational point of view, we have to do better. We cannot simply respond “It’s just fake news”, we can’t throw our hands up in the air and resign ourselves that the reality is that we live in a “post-truth era”. We have to come up with a better solution. For now, I join Claire Wardle, by asking everyone to think twice before posting, sharing, disseminating.

If you don’t know 100% that “This is true”, PLEASE DON’T SHARE, because it’s not worth the risk.

Claire Wardle