Digital literacy key against misinformation

Hype about the metaverse or virtual world where users can interact with other avatars through headsets has been growing. While it will take years to materialise, pundits say users should develop media literacy to tackle misinformation.

Digital literacy key against misinformation

Photo: Thana Boonlert

“The problem is we are not encouraged to question what is taught in school. When it comes to science and technology, we learn ideas like the Bible,” said Assoc Prof Jessada Denduangboripant, lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Science, in a forum held by the National Press Council of Thailand last week.

“Science has been around for 2,000-3,000 years. Scientists question and debunk theories to make progress. However, logic sometimes disappears from our society. Falsifiability does not exist [here],” he said.

Jessada said there is no absolute truth because it is subject to change, depending on the evidence. People can ask whether this piece of information makes sense and hear different views to make a judgement. However, he expressed concern over the circulation of fake news on social media platforms.

“It will permeate the metaverse. People are likely to believe what they see. How can they know if the content in question is true when they get used to it?,” he said.

On Oct 28, Facebook changed its parent company’s name to Meta to venture into the metaverse. The rebrand does not intrude into current platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp. It followed controversial internal document leaks.

Peerapon Anutarasoat, the fact-checker and manager of Sure and Share Centre at Thai News Agency MCOT, said virtual technology will be more accessible, but it remains to be seen whether users are ready to embrace it. However, digital literacy can enhance their preparedness.

“I believe there will be a point where technology and digital literacy converge,” he said.

Tanapon Raomanachai, a trainer for the Google News Initiative, said while tech companies should exercise responsibility, public users should have digital literacy. “Before joining Google, I was a journalist for 10 years. To be honest, tech companies cannot work unless people develop critical thinking,” he said.

Suthida Buacom, who joined the fact-checking contest, said adults and youths have fallen prey to fake news in different ways. Her team has developed a tool where users can enter dubious information on a website which will then be verified by other fact-checking databases.

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