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EU Fighting Disinformation Essential, as Coronavirus Delays EU Media Literacy Week 2020

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Brussels, March 2020 – The European Union fight against disinformation and associated support for Media Literacy is essential, as the world confronts the coronavirus pandemic and the spread of associated disinformation flooding social media and the internet. This comes at a time when the European Media Literacy Week (EMLW) has been postponed from 30 March – 3 April 2020 to a date to be determined.

Within this context, DEVCO and EEAS have circulated the Media4Democracy Information Note: Review of EU Policy and Action on Media Literacy – Touchstone for EU Delegations’ Actions to Confront Disinformation.

While the Media4Democracy Information Note was produced to mark EMLW, it equally provides relevant information for EU Delegations working to resist disinformation on the pandemic through Media and Information Literacy efforts to strengthen citizens ability to recognize false or misleading information now circulating.

The spread of misinformation on the pandemic across social media and other platforms has been flagged by the Executive Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) as a serious public health concern, saying: ‘We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic.’ The WHO has launched its own platform EPI-WIN to counter misinformation and support citizens understanding of the facts necessary for them to make decisions about their safety, with a format focused on ‘myth busting’ and providing facts.

The European Commission is providing information and tools to help fight disinformation in the context of the coronavirus crisis. Resources, tools and individuals with relevant expertise are also presented in the Information Note that can support EU Delegations in Media Literacy actions during the pandemic and beyond, as well as examples of EU-funded activities to support Media Literacy inside and outside the EU.

The Note also reviews the development of EU policy on disinformation, including on Media Literacy, which has been fundamental to the EU efforts to confront citizen exposure to misleading or outright false information, long viewed as a threat to European open and democratic societies – now a threat to citizens’ ability to gain factual information needed to keep themselves safe during the pandemic.

The Note reviews a range of UNESCO resources including: The Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers and UNESCO MIL social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) with micro-learning materials on MIL. New UNESCO resources to fight disinformation on the pandemic can be found at UNESCO Resource Center on Response to COVID-19.

DW Akademie (DWA) supports the Media and Information Literacy Expert Network (MILEN) consists of 13 MIL experts from across the world. MILEN supports, develops and promotes new initiatives in the field of MIL.

Cartooning for Peace (CFP), which has worked in a range of EU projects, focuses on the role of press cartooning to strengthen citizen Media Literacy by working with networks of local partners to, among other things, hold exhibitions.

EU Delegations can obtain the Information Note from Media4Democracy. More broadly, during the pandemic when social distancing and working from home protocols remain in place, Media4Democracy is providing EU Delegations with information on remote platforms to support discussions or meetings with EU Member States and local or international partners. For these resources, please contact info@media4democracy.eu.

© Picture: Rodriguez (Mexico), Cartooning for Peace