Digital Media Literacy for All

In the United States, misinformation and disinformation on the internet intensify political polarization, increase vaccine hesitancy, and undermine faith in democratic institutions. Since the 2016 election, research has revealed Americans experience misinformation in different ways. For example, older adults are more likely to be targeted by and exposed to misinformation online. Immigrants and adolescents encounter misinformation and disinformation on popular platforms like WhatsApp and TikTok. 

While misinformation affects Americans in different ways, we can all be part of the solution. Teaching people to sort fact from fiction online helps individuals make more informed choices, and can help them protect their friends, families, and communities from falling prey to dubious claims. 

The Empowering Diverse Digital Citizens Lab will test digital media literacy interventions designed to equip communities with skills and resources to avoid misinformation and build their trust in credible news and information. For example, the MediaWise for Seniors online course provides AARP members with access to specialized media literacy training modules to improve their ability to sort fact from fiction online. To support adolescents, the lab will use the Teen Fact Checking Network (TFCN) a virtual teen newsroom that debunks viral misinformation, to see if brief interventions delivered through social media can improve people’s ability to discern credible information. The lab is also working with community-based organizations to conduct listening sessions with communities of color. Despite being disproportionately targeted by misinformation and disinformation campaigns, there are few resources for communities of color. Through local partnerships, the lab will work alongside these communities to create relevant and useful interventions to mitigate the impact of misinformation and disinformation.

The lab comprises leaders from the Poynter Institute’s MediaWise, which teaches digital literacy and fact-checking skills to help people spot misinformation and disinformation, and Stanford Social Media Lab scholars and researchers. MediaWise has long-standing working relationships with the AARP, the largest nonprofit supporting Americans over the age of 50, the American Library Association, and the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs , all of which will be part of the lab’s approach to delivering interventions to diverse communities across the United States.

The team will test and learn from interventions with older populations, librarians, adolescents, and community groups to see what helps them identify reliable information online. The approach will also aim to understand whether the interventions—and the ability to detect fake news from fact—influence people’s trust in news sources.

Partners:

For more information, please contact:

Sunny Liu, Stanford University at sunnyxliu [at] stanford.edu