Aporte de Claudia Giraldo de Meta

Remitente: Claudia Giraldo

Grupo de interés: Sector privado

Idioma: Inglés

How is Digital Literacy related to content moderation and the deterioration of the democratic debate?

Traditionally, literacy has been considered a set of reading, writing and counting skills. Digital literacy, as conceived by Paul Gilster in 1997, is “the  ability  to  understand  and  use  information  in  multiple  formats  from  a  wide  range  of  sources when it is presented via a computer”. As captured by UNESCO’s adoption of media and information literacy (MIL), “the 21st century digital environment is deeply affecting the meaning and use of media and information”. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000257808

Building a more inclusive and open internet demands significant and continuous attention to new and more complex issues in content moderation and possible abusive uses of the platform.

Democratic debate requires that citizens have tools to engage in a debate based on ideas, rather than personal insults, slander or simply repeating demeaning lines against the opposite views. Digital Literacy has a role in creating this environment, by giving citizens the tools to critically think about public issues, and therefore being able to deliberately engage in fruitful discussions. Content moderation, on the other hand, is an essential tool to keep public debate civil – even if freedom of expression is paramount to democratic debate and content moderation guidelines should privilege it, there are some clear lines, such as hate speech, that have no place in a democratic dialogue. In this sense, digital literacy is the tool through which citizens are empowered to participate in the democratic dialogue, whereas content moderation is the means to ensure that a minimum standard is kept in order to safeguard the integrity of people.

How are legislative or political decisions on issues related to rights and technology affected by the lack or weakness of Digital Literacy within a population?

Lack of digital literacy makes it very tempting for political officers to think about content moderation initiatives that have unforeseen consequences. Not thinking that citizens can critically engage with their content online, disregarding every opposing view as a «bot» (i.e. an automated account) makes it very tempting to enact legislation that shields them from being target of derogatory content, but also has a clear possibility to endanger freedom of expression for citizens online. Digital literacy works in two different streams here. First, at the citizen level, it empowers them to engage more effectively with their elected and government officials to voice their concerns, and from the policymaker side, it enables this group to understand that online communication is i) bidirectional, so they cannot expect to not hear back from people and; ii) open, once a piece of content has gone out, it takes a life of its own, and the debate can or cannot go towards the place where the politician intended, but it is not through outright censorship, but through engaging with citizens, that they can influence the conversation.

What would be the main benefits, from the States, private sector and users, in promoting Digital Literacy for the development of civic skills?

Better protection of personal information and data
Better promotion of health, wellbeing and resiliency when using technology
Better evaluation of media sources and safer, more inclusive communities
Better use of technology for social change within democratic values

How should countries assess Digital Literacy progress and impact?

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) undertook a mapping exercise to show countries how existing data collection instruments can be linked and used to produce internationally-comparable results. The results were published in an information paper, “Recommendations on Assessment Tools for Monitoring Digital Literacy within UNESCO’s Digital Literacy Global Framework”. http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/ip56-recommendations-assessment-tools-digital-literacy-2019-en.pdf

Could you share examples of national digital literacy plans and curricula for the development of civic skills at the level of the Americas? Do you know and can you share examples of plans and study curricula on Digital Literacy for the development of civic skills outside the region but that you consider can be adopted in our countries?

It is of the utmost importance that governments include digital literacy in curricula for the development of civic skills since elementary education.
Laws that have been introduced to mandate media/digital literacy education in schools:
US/llinois https://www.npr.org/2021/08/12/1026993142/illinois-is-the-first-state-to-have-high-schools-teach-news-literacy
México (has not been passed yet)

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