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Check before sharing! Young people fighting disinformation in Colombian elections

With the support of the Kofi Annan Foundation, Sebastián Pedraza, one of the 2021 Kofi Annan Changemakers, and other partner organisations have launched a campaign for young people in Colombia to fight disinformation during the Colombian elections: “Verifica antes de compartir” or “Check before you share.”

The campaign aims to:

  • make young Colombians and their families aware of the impact of fake news and disinformation during the electoral period and understand the importance of verifying the information they share
  • inform young people that they can become positive agents in the fight against disinformation by taking a few simple steps.

Why a campaign on disinformation and fake news?

Disinformation – the intentional dissemination of false or misleading information – is a global problem that affects democracies worldwide.  

The Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age warned that “disinformation has become a critical threat to electoral integrity.” When voters are misinformed, they may choose a candidate who does not actually meet their preferences. Disinformation can remove accountability from elections. It can also undermine trust in free and fair elections by sowing doubt about the legitimacy and accuracy of an election.  

Fake news is 70% more likely to be retweeted than true information

Disinformation is not new: but social media is often the place where voters first discover false or misleading stories, and it can amplify and spread these stories rapidly and easily. 

It’s hard to tell real from fake news and technology has made it even harder. And fake news is dangerous.  

In fact, we know that fake news is 70% more likely to be retweeted than true information. We are all are drawn to content that is emotive, vivid and compelling, so disinformation—which is designed to elicit strong and emotional responses—can generate much more engagement than other forms of news and information. 

So, what can I do about it?

Young people can make a difference. YOU can make a difference.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) created a simple graphic during the Covid pandemic to explain how one person can help prevent the spread of fake news. It shows the kinds of questions asked that help stop the spread of false information.

7 things you can do

  1. Pause before you shareDon’t rush! Take a few minutes. Count backwards from 10 and look at it again. This will help you look at the information in a more rational way and be a better judge of if it’s right to share. 
  2. Ask yourself some simple questions.  Ask yourself: Have I read the whole article? (many fake news stories use shocking headlines to grab attention) Why am I sharing this? How does it make me feel? Whose agenda am I supporting by sharing it?
  3. Check the source: Do you recognise the website? If not, find out if it’s a credible/reliable source. Look in the about section to find out more information about it and also search for the author. Also, check if there are other reputable news/media outlets reporting on the story.
    Unsure if something you’ve seen online is true or not? Start here > Colombia Check
    Although the following tips on how to identify fake news were designed by the WHO to fight disinformation about Covid, the tips can apply to any kind of news > Tips to identify fake news
  4. If you see it, say it: If you see someone you know sharing something you don’t feel is right, say something. Stop your friends if you feel they are feeding the cycle of disinformation (think back to the WHO graphic!) Share this page, share the tips, ask them to pause. This does not mean you have to be judgmental, help them verify and inform themselves.
    Report fake news. If you see news being shared and you know or suspect that it is disinformation, you can alert the social media platforms. The following page from the WHO tells you how: > How to report misinformation online
  5. Inform yourself before you vote. Your vote means your choice. Don’t let someone get in your head!  
  6. Join our campaign: Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and use the hashtags:  #Pausayverifica #Nohablespaja #Nocomacuento 
  7. Attend our webinar* to learn more and share your thoughts. At the end of April, we will hold a webinar with tech and political experts, as well as young people from Colombia and other countries, to discuss the risks posed to elections by disinformation. Join us to discover examples from around the world on how young people have led efforts to fight disinformation, especially in the context of elections.  More information will be shared soon on our social media channels and on this article. 

*The webinar will be in Spanish.

Read the note at the Kofi Annan Foundation website