Considering recent events in nearby Russia, the Czech Republic introduced a project that aims at educating teenagers in recognizing the difference between “trustworthy information” and manipulation.
Putin’s Propaganda Machine is constantly spewing out falsified information in order to (unsuccessfully) improve public opinion of the government and encourage anti-Western sentiment. It’s a dangerous time for independent broadcasters and journalists to try and speak out against the Russian government’s lies, therefore making factual, reliable information difficult and risky to find.
Among the wide range of propaganda being fed to the people Russia are news articles and broadcasts featuring false information, covering up government/military actions with false accusations, and releasing pro-Putin videos to the public. The influx of Russian propaganda is prominent not only in Russia, but in the Czech Republic as well.
“According to experts who contributed to the project, the Czech Republic is still considered to lie within the sphere of Russian interests. Some Czech media use pro-Russian websites as sources for their news.” — Ludmila Souckova, Czech propaganda project coordinator.
The new project, introduced by Czech humanitarian organization People in Need, recognizes that the younger generation should be exposed to Russian propaganda in a learning environment, rather than be exposed to it online, with little-to-no context, and mistake it as genuine information. Along with teaching students how to differentiate between propaganda and an uncensored news source, the program aims to reenforce the idea of fact-checking news before sharing on social media.
According to the Pew Research Center, 30% of Facebook users use the social network as a means of getting news, and 50% of social network site users have shared news stories on their platforms. It’s safe to assume that not all of these news stories were fact-checked before being shared on social media. And since we’re more likely to accept information given to us via people that we know, it’s likely that misinformation has been unknowingly passed on within social groups.
This new Czech program realizes this, and the significance of encouraging fact-checking before believing a story. It’s important to be skeptical of the information with which you are presented, because it happens too often that information is manipulated for someone else’s benefit. You can never be too informed about an issue, so if you have the advantage of multiple news sources to check facts, you should take advantage of it.
Featured image courtesy of WikiMedia.