Three ways to stem manipulative narratives in Latin America and the Caribbean
On April 28th, CREDIBLE convened a group of renowned academics and practitioners for a discussion on disinformation trends in Latin America and the Caribbean. This first panel is part of a series of events that IREX is organizing to discuss current trends and opportunities in this field, as it conducts country-specific interventions to strengthen media and information ecosystems.
Participants included IREX’s partners in Guatemala, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. USAID mission representatives, representatives of the Steering Oversight and Leadership (SOL) Teams (youth advisory groups for CREDIBLE’s activities), and other stakeholders from the media and journalism sector also joined the session.
Disinformation travels fast, especially when its spread is intentional, and clarifying or denying manipulative narratives is complex and time consuming. Facts do not always spread with the same ease as inaccurate information and governments don’t always have publicly available information to offer a credible benchmark for citizens to form an evidence-based opinion. The vacuum of credible and reliable information in Latin American and Caribbean countries, including limited access to reliable public information, provides bad actors with the opportunity to promote division and mistrust through the distribution of disinformation.
1. Utilize social media to confront and dispel disinformation
Journalists have traditionally been producers of quality information, but at present they are far from the single source of information. Simultaneously, regional media outlets are facing critical challenges to their sustainability, leaving social media to be the go-to source of information for many, especially youth.
Social media platforms provide youth with access to a plethora of information, the ability to express diverse ideas, and a mechanism to use their voices to confront disinformation while participating in an open dialogue.
2. Create models of resiliency among youth
Youth taking active positions against disinformation and manipulated information should be embraced as a social norm that can foster a strong foundation of resiliency among the youth population. Critical moments, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and elections, can be pivotal opportunities to empower young people to take an active role by supporting their interaction with the information ecosystem and its diverse set of tools.
3. Embrace independent media
Independent media needs to be embraced and diverse voices need to be woven into public conversation. Fact-checking works efficiently when crowdsourced and nudging people to be more aware of the importance of accuracy and verification will support the halting of misinformation. For these methods to be effective, it is crucial to consider the emotional drivers of why individuals engage with dis/misinformation. Fostering trust, engagement, and participation – particularly among youth – is key.
The panelists of this event included: Silvio Waisbord (Director and Professor, School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University), Estela Roeder Carbo (Professor of Universidad de Lima), and Adriana Amado (President of ''infociudadana.org''). The session was moderated by Laura Agosta (CREDIBLE Chief of Party) and participants were encouraged to ask questions and participate.
CREDIBLE is working to transform the way young people in Latin America and the Caribbean interact with their information environment, creating resilience to mis- and disinformation, and ultimately empowering youth to engage in fact-based discourse and decision-making. For more information, visit our project page.