Whether the so called “trolls” influenced the US-election in 2016, remains unclear. Undeniable is that populist assumptions in “real world” and on social media gain much attention. Right-wing politicians in all EU Member States have celebrated electoral successes. They gather support by emphasizing differences between „good people“ and “corrupt elites”, tending to oversimplify political debates.
Additionally, right-wing extremists follow an agenda of destabilizing democracies by spreading fake news and conspiracy theories. By blaming „Others“ for societal problems, they encourage discrimination and exclusion of national/ethnic minorities, LGBTI+ persons, women and other marginalized groups. With manipulative technology (“social bots”) and disinformation campaigns, radical groups and organisations try to mainstream such narratives via social media.
Focused strengthening of active citizenship, through activities not only in classrooms but also on social media, is strongly recommended as an antidote, since young internet users get informed about the world through platforms such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, in addition to what they hear from parents and peers. According to a study of the Oxford Internet Institute 20% of all “tweets” with regard to politics are false information or junk Messages.
Only few teachers are familiar with technical instruments of manipulation and professional strategies of indoctrination by groups and political parties. Hence, the main objectives of the DETECT-project a
An improved critical competence of judgement among teachers and students (e.g. being able to recognise “computational propaganda”)
The strengthening of active digital citizenship
To achieve this, the consortium will develop a training for teachers. In an inquiry based teaching/learning-environment they will familiarise themselves with instruments and strategies that manipulate opinions and behaviour – algorithms, social bots, dark posts and hoax campaigns. Subsequently, the teachers conduct “research-studios” with their students.
Concrete outputs of the DETECT-consortium are:
Compendium for pupils and teachers: Illustrations on strategies and instruments of manipulation in social media
Hands-on material for conducting research-studios with students
Accompanying methodical-didactic material, in order to conduct research-studios
2 online tutorials and a blended learning course for teachers
12 multiplier events with 300 head teachers, teachers and policy makers that will take place in all partner countries
All results will be available as Open Educational Resources at well-known platforms and on the project’s website.