Myanmar is a disinformation and hate speech hotspot: During the run-up to the elections on November 8, NGOs like the US Charter Center registered a significant increase of disinformation on Facebook. Now activists have started a Media Information Literacy program called “Just Ask” in cooperation with FNF Myanmar.
Myanmar is a disinformation and hate speech hotspot: During the run-up to the elections on November 8, NGOs like the US Charter Center registered a significant increase of disinformation on Facebook.
The problem is not new. A report published by an UN independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar highlighted that hate speech and false news contributed to the persecution of Rohingya Muslims. A major reason for the problem is poor media literacy.
To counter this, FNF Myanmar partnered up with Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO), a local NGO working on digital rights, and the TV Channel Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB).
Together, they designed the Media Information Literacy Project MIL Kyi, which translates to “Just Ask” in Burmese. MIL Kyi is a weekly TV show that provides information on media literacy - the first of its kind in Myanmar. The show debunks viral false news, but also educates the viewers on trends in media and Myanmar’s media landscape. Every show reaches tens of thousands of viewers.
Myanmar’s population had to adapt to rapid technological changes. The country was isolated for decades and its media was under strict state control. Just five years ago, a SIM card cost around 200 USD. Today, nearly everybody uses Facebook as a main source for news - but false information is rampant on the platform.
Before the elections, media literacy became even more important. The campaign period was strongly affected by the covid-19-pandemic. Due to strict lockdowns in some areas, many parties switched to intensiv social media election campaigns. At the same time, there were many false reports about the virus itself. The team reacted quickly - and produced a show about disinformation related to the pandemic.