'Youth needs to be aware of disinformation dangers'

The participants at the workshopCollected

In today's world where information technology is advancing in leaps and bounds, the dangers of disinformation, misinformation and fake news loom large. The younger generation needs to be aware and alert of these dangers and prepare themselves accordingly.

These observations were made at a workshop held in the capital on Tuesday.

Organised jointly by Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) and the EMK Centre at the EMK Centre in Dhanmondi, the workshop, 'Building Awareness Against Disinformation Among Youth,' was joined by students of various colleges and universities.

In his presentation on 'A World of Disinformation: Understanding and Analysing the Threat of Disinformation,' Shafqat Munir, head of BCTR and Senior Research Fellow, BIPSS, deliberated on the various threats of disinformation.

He highlighted how even radical militant forces used seemingly innocuous gaming sites to spread their narrative, radicalise, interact with each other, and more.

Shafqat Munir

He also showed how pictures and videos were manipulated on the net, which could lead to serious repercussions on an international scale.

Shafqat Munir stressed that the young generation need to understand the expansive spread of disinformation in the media, the social media and in all facets of communication, and also to discern the difference between information and disinformation. Critical thinking is the key, he added.

Speaking on the topic of 'Countering Disinformation and Building Up Societal Resilience,' Ayesha Kabir, Head of English Web, Prothom Alo, said that resistance and resilience was required to counter the steadily growing reach of disinformation, misinformation and fake news.

Ayesha Kabir

Other than using fact checkers online, a few simple ways of identifying fake news was, she said, consider the source, verify the information, check the date, read beyond the headlines and also to ask the experts.

She urged the young participants not to share questionable information online without verifying first as this could cause harm. "Check before you click," she stressed.

Jeff Ridenour

Information officer and spokesperson of the US embassy in Dhaka, Jeff Ridenour, spoke briefly at the event, telling the young participants how important it was to discern not only between fake news and truth, but also between news and views.

He thanked BIPSS and EMK for organising the workshop.

In the closing remarks, Maj Gen ANM Muniruzzaman (retd), president of BIPSS, told the youth that it was if particular importance that they be conscious of the proliferation of disinformation all around because they were the future of the country, of the world. They needed to understand, analyse and build up resistance against such disinformation as responsible citizens.

Maj Gen ANM Muniruzzaman (retd)

He thanked them all for their lively and active participation.

The young participants, throughout the event, interacted with the speakers and each other, probing and commenting in a lively debate and discussion.