Misinformation is an ongoing problem in the global media landscape dominated by digital and social media. More than 600 million Indians use the internet. Over 34 million have come online in the past year alone. Digital literacy and regulation, however, have yet to catch up with this massive growth. People with affordable phone and broadband connections have access to news and information flowing from different digital sources but are not equipped to assess the veracity of claims usually made in these messages.
The FactShala media literacy training program launched by Internews in collaboration with DataLEADS and with the funding support from Google.org and the Google News Initiative is a one-of-its-kind media literacy program that helped individuals from small cities and villages across India navigate online information in multiple languages.
This report outlines the impact of the program and contributes towards understanding how such initiatives help in building resilience to misinformation within communities experiencing exponential growth in access to and use of the internet. There is no media literacy intervention and impact study of this scale in the Indian context previously. Therefore, this study illuminates the path for the development of more programs around media literacy and misinformation.
The findings highlight the importance and need of such training programs, especially with the expansion of social media penetrating into rural India day by day.
It was found that participants of the training program developed critical thinking about online information they received and appreciate the need to check the same with trustworthy sources while exercising caution before sharing it with others.
The report indicates that there was increased awareness around misinformation on digital platforms and how to identify it among trainees. It was found that participants of the training program developed critical thinking about online information they received and appreciate the need to check the same with trustworthy sources while exercising caution before sharing it with others. Most importantly, it shows that training is an appropriate and effective way to enhance literacy related to social media.
The impactful outcome of the training program has resulted in recommendations relating to the need to scale up the training program all over the country by incorporating the new knowledge and lessons learned during this program. The study also suggests that the evaluation of any such initiative leads in modifying and improving advocacy strategies that can be implemented on a large scale.