Final DIGITOL conference on combating disinformation: “We have to be many”
The final conference of the DIGITOL project on 11 January 2022 provided the opportunity to share useful practices and tools to fight disinformation and fake news using an intergenerational approach. The event allowed attendees to learn and discuss with project partners and participants and to define recommendations for policy makers.
Added value of the Digitol research
Estelle Huchet, AGE Platform Europe, set the scene focusing on how we use, understand and react to online information and the differences between age groups. For the vast majority of initiatives inclusive of older people the focus remains on digital skills to use devices and the internet, but very few address how to understand and react to online content. Setting up initiatives such as DIGITOL that do address this using an intergenerational approach has multiple benefits: mutual support and knowledge transfer, reducing misunderstanding between age groups, social inclusion and increased participation, (economic) contributions to society and health and increased wellbeing.
Antonio Dell'Atti, DIGITOL project coordinator then introduced the project before moderating the first round-table.
The first round-table debate among DIGITOL partners and Stacey Featherstone, Meta, aimed at providing the space to compare tools and outputs designed during the project and to conceive ways to collaborate in the future.
The discussion revolved around four topics:
- Specific commitment against the growth of fake news
- Improvement of intergenerational connection
- Tools to increase the awareness and wise use of digital media
- Digital inclusion in daily life
Stacey Featherstone, Meta, highlighted the difference between disinformation which is strategic and malicious vs. misinformation which may be casual but with a damaging effect. Meta's philosophy is to remove misinformation and inform on how to recognise content and increase access to accurate information so that people feel empowered.
Amira Bieber, Pro Arbeit, focused on the importance of combating fake news during the pandemic. This point was also picked up by Chelsea Lazaridou, 50plus Hellas, emphasizing that the project led to participants being more active and less lonely while finding new ways to communicate.
Rachele Meda, Consorzio Comunità Brianza, put the spotlight on DIGITOL's tools to increase the awareness and wise use of digital media - the Training of Trainers Programme, the DIGITOL academy and the Capacity Building Programme. Valentina Georgieva, Znanie, highlighted the importance of networking with other organisations e.g. schools for digital inclusion in daily life.
The second part of the conference consisted of four interactive round tables running in parallel, moderated by DIGITOL project participants (one younger and one older adult). The goal was to collect knowledge, tools and recommendation for policy maker on key topics faced by the project:
- Digital literacy: how do young and old people use social media and digital tools?
- Intergenerational capacity building: how do intergenerational practices provide an added value in terms of training and education?
- Digital Inclusion and Community Engagement: how can we promote digital literacy in local communities?
- Fake news, dis- and mis-information and hate speech: how do young and older adults approach these challenges?
Facilitators used Miro as a brainstorming template.
Multiple recommendations emerged from the various break-out sessions highlighting the importance of:
- providing support and accessibility to devices and internet
- mutual exchange of knowledge and experience in intergenerational learning
- building communities for digital literacy
- encouraging people to share the knowledge gained
- involving older people in creating policies to make sure that the offers respond to their needs.
Fighting disinformation: a collective responsibility
Picking up on these recommendations in her closing of the conference, our colleague Estelle Huchet emphasized that in order to amplify accurate information, we need to be many: we have a collective responsibility to address the challenge of disinformation. Older people can act as multipliers to support the educational effort towards younger people – with the side effect of combating loneliness and giving people a purpose and feeling of empowerment.
> Further information
- Disinformation and COVID-19: a matter of concern for older people?
- Disinformation and older people: a context analysis report