TORONTO–Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) recently launched its latest program “Fighting Disinformation through Strengthened Media and Citizen Preparedness in Canada.”
The nine-month project will train both working journalists and the general public in strategies to recognize, track and expose disinformation campaigns on social media. It is funded by the Canadian Heritage’s Digital Citizen Initiative, which promotes civic, news, and digital media literacy to help citizens become resilient against online harm. (Please note: Heritage Canada has no input nor influence over any curriculum materials or editorial content produced as a result of this program.)
The program’s goals are twofold. First, the project will increase journalists’ ability to recognize and expose manipulation, misinformation and disinformation campaigns on social media, track and document social media attacks, and directly combat misinformation and disinformation. Second, the project will work to improve digital and news literacy skills for the Canadian public through critical assessment of online news reporting, recognize malicious exploitation and have access to tools to avoid online manipulation. All tools and resources developed through the project will be archived and shared on a created online platform for widespread access and use. JHR will work with 300 journalists and 500 members of the general public on this project.
“Journalists for Human Rights is pleased to launch this project with Heritage Canada fighting disinformation and misinformation in Canada,” said Rachel Pulfer, Executive Director of Journalists for Human Rights. “The project will help equip both journalists and citizens with the tools they need to recognize, track and expose disinformation and misinformation campaigns online.”
Craig Silverman of BuzzFeed News, a Canadian who is one of the world’s leading experts in disinformation, misinformation and media manipulation, and Taylor Gunn, president of CIVIX, a charity dedicated to strengthening democracy through civic education, which is doing groundbreaking work in the field of digital and news literacy, will be engaged in the project in resource development.
“Canadian journalists play an essential role in stopping false and misleading information from taking hold. I’m thrilled to work with JHR to train journalists in newsrooms big and small in order to help them spot disinformation, understand how social media can be manipulated, and use their skills to create a more informed public,” says Silverman.
“For the past two years, CIVIX has been consulting with experts around the world to build digital literacy tools for educators. These have been successful in schools, but the habits and skills of informed citizenship apply to everyone. We look forward to contributing our resources to this crucial project,” says Gunn.
Fighting Disinformation through Strengthened Media and Citizen Preparedness in Canada is JHR’s response to the Government of Canada’s plan to safeguard our democratic processes from threats of interference.
Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions, in January 2019, said that “Canada’s best defense against threats to democracy remains an engaged and informed public. By building their skills, Canadians can better understand online deceptive practices, recognize disinformation and be less susceptible to online manipulation.”
JHR will put out two calls for applications for Canadians to participate directly in this project. One will call for applications from journalists to attend a nationwide conference this fall, training journalism trainers on disinformation and misinformation. The other calls for individuals interested in training community members in these techniques.