European Media Literacy Week conference in Brussels. In fact the session didn't really focus on "tools", but it brought out various key issues in this area. James Ball opened the session to introduce the idea of using tools to counter the forces of clickbait, hackers etc., as well as talking about principles that platforms, journalists and regulators need to follow.
The session chair is Maja Cappello (Head of Department for Legal Information, European Audiovisual Observatory). Panellists were: Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck (CEO and Founder, Lie Detectors); Tessa Lyons Laing (NewsFeed product Manager, Facebook); Gianni Riotta (Journalist and Professor, LUISS, School of Journalism); Matt Rogerson (Head of Public Policy, The Guardian); Claus Grewenig (Vice President Governmental Affairs, Mediengruppe RTL).
von Reppert-Bismarck introduced her project/organisation, an independent non-profit, http://www.lie-detectors.org which has journalists visiting schools to raise awareness about the issues of false news. This is seen as having a dual purpose of educating students and encouraging journalists to step away from their everyday job and engage with young people to talk about what journalists do (and also what can go wrong). I will just throw in here that it is disappointing that they don't seem to be working with school librarians, who surely are obvious partners.
Riotta cited research about the correlation between loss of journalism (e.g. (I think) a local newspaper disappearing) and the rise in polarised ideas, the loss of trust etc. Therefore the importance of responsible journalism had become even more evident. They are working on a prototype for a tool which links the item of news you are looking at with that item's rating by others.
Laing talked about some of things Facebook has done, for example, to reduce the amount of false information (including disrupting the ways in which it could gain attention) or to link items with fact-checkers' information about the item. They are funding various research and awareness initiatives.
Grewenig talked about the importance of "traditional" media, and how media broadcasting from organisations like his, and quality journalism, should not be taken for granted. Ball (as a Guardian journalist) picked up on the word "traditional" and how it often got used pejoratively. He emphasised "traditional" media's accountability for their content, with clear channels for complaint and comment, and also (referring to the Guardian) their responsibility for what advertising appears with their content. This includes a philosophy of open information on the web, considering the diversity of the journalists themselves, and having an education centre that brings in younger people to see what happens in the newspaper.
Cappello asked about challenges. von Reppert-Bismarck felt that the fast moving scene was a challenge, including teachers keeping up with developments and encouraging younger people not to get blase and bored about the issue. Grewenig was asked to talk about whether anything was being done specifically looking to the elections in May 2019, and combatting a fake news effect there. He agreed with a previous speaker that media literacy had to be developed through people's everyday lives, or they would not pay attention to it (or would resent it being pushed in their faces). Part of it was explaining the complex processes, finding a balance between quick news and reliable news, and explaining and admitting when things go wrong.
Ball talked about the need for banning social media being used for microtargetted political campaigns. It worried him that things were still going on as they had been before recent scandals (about using social media politically).
Laing said that research had shown that changes Facebook made had had an impact on false news etc. She said that political advertisers now have to show who paid for the advert and some other key information, so there is "greater transparency and awareness". von Reppert-Bismarck asked why some apps which could be used to check facts had been disabled by Facebook (Laing talked about the tension between protecting information and enabling sharing). von Reppert-Bismarck also asked a question about Whatsapp (but I'm afraid I didn't grasp the Q & A coherently enough).
Riotta brought in the issue of how reality is warped and constructed by those who want to manipulate people's ideas and behaviour by using social media etc.
Someone from the audience asked about the role of the tech platforms. Ball mentioned concerns raised when feeds from sources like the Guardian were given less priority on Facebook, and that making news "flat" (so the branding wasn't evident) could also be an issue when people are trying to judge quality. Grewenig talked about findability and access being imprtant, to identify quality news.
One of the points raised in the wrap up was the tension between freedom of choice and free speech, and regulation (definitely a problem that can't easily been solved).