DPC Together with Facebook Equip Youth with Digital Literacy Skills

In a step to reduce the spread of misinformation online, Dubai Press Club (DPC), in partnership with Facebook, hosted a workshop to educate youth in the UAE on the importance of evaluating information online and identifying reliable sources. The workshop was the latest to be organised under the Media National Youth Programme (MNYP) and was attended by media students and young media professionals.

The session, which focused on ‘Digital Literacy’, underscored the importance of being able to identify false information and determine trustworthy sources. With the majority of youth looking to the internet as a key source of information, being able to effectively and responsibly find, evaluate, communicate and share online content is part of being ‘digitally literate’.

The interactive workshop, presented by Nashwa Aly, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy for the Middle East and North Africa, highlighted the role youth can play in limiting the spread of misinformation online by making more informed decisions if they encounter false news and information.

The workshop discussed how digital literacy is a responsibility that continues to increase in importance – especially in the MENA region, where Arab youth rely heavily on online sources for news and information.

Maitha Buhumaid, Director of Dubai Press Club, highlighted the importance of tackling digital illiteracy by equipping the next generation of Emirati journalists with the skills needed to deal with modern technologies. She further noted that technology has become an integral part of media.

“In order for the next generation of Emirati media professionals to succeed in an increasingly digital world, this requires preparing them on how to skillfully and efficiently use modern technologies. Digital literacy is extremely important for media professionals, as it helps them in staying up to date with the latest developments in the media industry.”

Meanwhile, Nashwa Aly said: “Digital literacy is an evolving, shared responsibility – especially in the Arab World where youth are increasingly reliant on online sources for news and information. {Supporting data: 50 per cent of Young Arabs get their daily news on Facebook considering social media as a trusted source of news, compared to traditional media – Arab Youth Survey 2019}. We continue to fight the spread of false news on Facebook through a combination of technology, people, and our work with external entities such as news organisations, civil society and other stakeholders in the region.”

Aly continued: “We are excited to partner with the Dubai Press Club for the Media National Youth Programme, which serves as an excellent platform to foster a new generation of Emirati journalists. Our session was aimed at equipping these journalists with critical skills such as information and media literacy, as part of our larger effort to develop awareness to reduce the spread of misinformation, improve the quality of news on our platform, and take another step towards helping people safely navigate the Internet.”

During the session, Aly highlighted that Facebook is working with stakeholders globally to co-develop a way forward and believes journalists have a strong role to play to reduce the spread of misinformation.

Among the many tips she shared with participants was the importance of paying attention to author information, dates of publication, and other information that can reveal whether an online source is reliable, including how to tell the difference between different types of websites. Participants were also trained on how to safely navigate the digital world and how to responsibly produce and share content.

More than 183 million people use Facebook every month across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), so this is a responsibility that it takes very seriously and continues to fight the spread of false news on the platform through a combination of technology, people, and working with external entities.

The platform removes content that violates Facebook’s Community Standards, reduces the distribution of content like clickbait and false news and informs people by giving them more context on the stories they see and by promoting news literacy.

Aly elaborated on Facebook’s initiatives in the MENA region, such as the recently launched third-party fact-checking in Arabic, in partnership with Agence France-Presse (AFP). She highlighted that Facebook also supports quality journalism and news literacy by developing products and working with publishers and journalists through the Facebook Journalism Project, and a recent partnership with the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) Social Media Solutions to train 2,500 journalists across seven MENA countries with in-person workshops and webinars in Arabic.

In 2018, Facebook partnered with the UAE’s National Media Council for a joint campaign aimed at raising awareness of news literacy and helping people to make more informed decisions if they encounter false news.

Running until July 2019, the Media National Youth Programme, is a joint initiative of Dubai Press Club and Watani Al Emarat Foundation. It aims to create a comprehensive platform for young Emirati students and media professionals to enhance their knowledge, expertise and skills in media. The Programme features a series of workshops in collaboration with leading academic and media institutions in the country.