It is possible to imagine a scenario in a few years in which we talk about post- disinformation : overcoming and reversing the current trend towards post-truth can be achieved, as long as we provide the new generations with the necessary mechanisms to turn the lie around.
The digitization of communication allows us, at the click of a button, to access human knowledge generated throughout human history with 5G speed. However, the critical mass that receives this data has not been prepared for its discernment. This is one of the causes of the current Twitter crisis and the failure of the democratic debate .
When the Internet was still far from becoming what it is today, in 1995, the philologist and thinker Noam Chomsky quoted the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr , an intellectual at the time of US President John F. Kennedy, who stated:
“Rationality is a technique, a skill, within the reach of very few: only some possess it, while most people are guided by emotions and impulses.”
Rationality and misinformation
Disinformation is defined by the European Commission as “deliberately created and disseminated false information to influence public opinion or hide the truth”.
However, there is no collective will or individual time to verify the information we receive and embrace. Above all because we embrace this information, as Niebuhr said, encouraged by the sentimental push that such information provokes in us.
The rationality that we lack, however, can be found with the help of the same technology that is at the service of lies. In the same way that it is used to build false information, it can also be used to unmask it. There are different image or video verification tools, as well as verification of the source or authorship that rules out any manipulation.
The new generations
Generation Z, young people between the ages of 18 and 22, participate massively in social networks . They know that these lack credibility, but they are attracted by their immediacy.
Most of the young people who consume this information are unaware of the possibility of verification. This, together with the so-called ” halo effect “, the cognitive bias that makes our brain trust those people whom we admire or want to emulate for some of their most peculiar traits. Now we call them influencers .
Our brains tend to seek comfort; For this reason, we accept without asking too many questions the ideas that coincide with our beliefs, those ideas that we have been crystallizing throughout our life experience.
For this reason, it is important to establish a critical and reflective spirit from the earliest childhood. To be able to ask questions and find answers throughout all the training cycles. Especially when we take into account that almost 95% of children have a mobile by age 11 .
The role of the school
The school has an important role when it comes to building that critical spirit and creating the foundations of a correct digital literacy. Digital information technologies applied to teaching make it possible to compete with the attention of students by incorporating all this scenario of misinformation into classes.
For this, teachers need to improve their digital training in a global way, knowing the concepts that encompass disinformation, the great crisis of the infodemic, the differentiation between wrong news –fake news– and malicious and intentional news –hoax.
This training must include knowledge of the media: how news is created, how information is worked in traditional media and the most modern digital media. It is necessary to have a general idea of the different social networks that exist and how we should behave in them to get the most out of dissemination and learning.
More knowledge, less polarization
Teacher training plans tend to lag behind the communication society. Everything changes very quickly in the new digital environments, and there is no certainty that in a few months the scenario will be the same.
That is why it is convenient to know the rules of this new digital society: even if some social networks may disappear, others will arrive. In all of them it is necessary that the social debate from the truth does not fail. This will allow less ideologically and politically polarized societies, where there is room for respect and tolerance without impositions.
The fight against misinformation is in communication training.
Author Bio: Laura Martinez Oton has a PhD in Communication. Researcher, teacher and director of the Onda Cero Radio Master’s Degree at Nebrija University