3CL launched ‘Young People and Information. A Manifesto’ at Kixott in Mosta on the 15th of June 2023.
The event drew a small but highly engaged crowd of educators, workers in the youth sector, and media professionals who recognised the pressing need for enhanced digital literacy, in a landscape in which traditional media is struggling to combat the overwhelming surge of fake news and misinformation propagated through social media.
Alex Grech, Executive Director at 3CL, gave an overview of the main issues covered by the manifesto. It is clear that our interconnected world offers an incredible amount of information at our fingertips, but it comes at a price. Only part of this information is really beneficial or useful, and a big chunk is just exploitation of people’s content and attempts to influence through devious means like disinformation. The fact is, while Malta is in charge of its own internal affairs, we are all at the mercy of the big tech and social network giants like Meta, Google and TikTok who have run roughshod of regulators and the world at large.
Alex gave several examples of how things are developing, e.g. it took a brave Facebook employee to become a whistle blower on the social network’s algorithmic deviousness; the effects of cancel culture; conspiracy theories that are most absurd for many but are given a platform on social media; Elon Musk taking over Twitter (now re-branded as X); the exploitation of misinformation and disinformation to benefit former US president Donald Trump; and the warnings on AI possibly getting out of hand. And yet, we are all enchanted talking to ChatGPT.
The manifesto serves as a wake-up call not just to Gen Z but to all sectors of society as sleepwalking and slumbering is no longer an option. Attendees were urged to confront the challenges associated with our digital landscape head-on, starting from the Maltese educational system and the Maltese media landscape.
Indeed, the attendees astutely raised questions and made pertinent remarks, highlighting the dire need for improved digital literacy in Malta. Equipping ourselves with the necessary tools to discern fact from fiction is essential in this age of information overload.
Attending journalists, who hailed from local media houses, cried for more support to traditional news media for it is the only one really challenging misinformation and disinformation on such a big scale. The tsunami of digital falsehoods poses a significant challenge, necessitating concerted efforts to fortify the resilience of traditional media while promoting critical thinking among the different age groups in society. The recent launch of the fact-checking service by the Times of Malta is but one example. Yet, the likes of Meta and Google reap the benefits from advertising revenue generated by people reading professionally produced news and media content, not the media themselves.
In essence, the manifesto launch served as a rallying cry to policymakers, regulators, and technology influencers. It urged them to address these pressing concerns and implement comprehensive solutions. It also reminded young digital citizens of their role in shaping a more informed, responsible, and trustworthy digital society. All these issues, and many others, are in the manifesto, available for download from here.
And if you’re keen to know more, check out the latest video from our GenZ shorts series, in which Dr Alex Grech delves deeper into what manifestos mean for his generation. Which begs the question: do manifestos resonate with the young generation?