How would you describe the mission and expertise of your organization in the field of media literacy/ critical thinking/ fact checking/ countering disinformation?
Fact-checking efforts should continue, while at the same time we should understand that it is not the only answer to a complex issue. In order to set our own agenda, we should construct our narratives.
A close network of like-minded analysts and experts from each state affected by the disinformation should be established, as well as active measures undertaken. The network is a necessary condition for the West to stay proactive in countering disinformation, and more importantly, be capable of building up its own narrative (instead of persuading the public once again that the threat actually exists).
It is essential to connect international, governmental, and private initiatives to jointly counter disinformation and at the same time further our own narratives.
What are the main resources developed by your organization you’d be willing to share?
Which are, in your opinion, the three biggest current challenges related to countering disinformation in your country?
There should be a long-term strategy to build up resilient, well-informed decision-makers, institutions and society, empowering them by providing practical knowledge and tools.
In the age of social media and fast-spreading information, the society is on the front line of confrontation and negative influences. Thus, forming a strong, resilient and critically thinking society that remains attentive to information consumers and resistant to provocations becomes a key task in the face of today’s security issues – and we are trying to contribute to that.
Could you name three solutions that you implemented or else want to recommend as an advice how to counter disinformation, strengthen societies’ critical thinking skills and build civil resilience to disinformation?
What are the top three events or dates you have witnessed this year that have caused an intensification of disinformation activities?
- January 13 events – Defenders of Freedom Day
- February 16 – Day of Restoration of the State of Lithuania
- March 11 – Day of Restoration of Independence of Lithuania
- June 14 and 15 – Days of Mourning and Hope and Occupation and Genocide
- July 6 – State Day (Coronation and National Anthem of King Mindaugas of Lithuania)
- August 23 – European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Stalinism and Nazism and Baltic Way Day
- Covid19 pandemic lockdown
- Election rigging in Belarus and following up events in Belarus (presidential elections in Belarus)
In your opinion, which future three dates/events are likely to bring about the intensification of disinformation activities in 2020-2021?
- October 11 and 25 – Parliamentary elections
- Covid19 pandemic
- Military exercises (of different scale)
What are the prevailing disinformation narratives you have observed in the media space this year.
- Failing state
- History-control the past
- Russia is a liberator of Europe, the only Victor of WWII; Europe owns Russia and Russian people
- Anti-Vaccine and Covid19 conspiracy theories
Have you been relying on any fact-checking tools? If yes, please describe them or share the links.
Would you like to highlight any of the disinformation cases you have witnessed/ discovered/ debunked?
In your opinion, who are the best performing actors – in your country, as well as in the EU – playing crucial roles in the field of media literacy today and why?
In my opinion there is one risky tendency nowadays – Media Literacy has become an all catch phrase. Therefore, when talking about Media Literacy it is important to define a concrete topic and the target audience. My sincere believe is that Media Literacy has to become an integral part of curriculum at all ages of education, both formal and non-formal.
The strategic documents of Lithuania clearly define the role of education to the national security of Lithuania. The education about the national security (in its broad sense) is multidimensional, namely, it includes such topics as civic education, education on national security and media and information literacy – and is not limited only to these topics due to the changing security environment. There is more than one state institution engaged in the national security education: the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, the Ministry of Culture, and institutions and agencies of defense. So, the importance of education in national security strengthening is not questioned – the active citizenship education has been discussed at the Lithuania’s political level for almost twenty years, and the national security and media literacy education became topical since five years back.
Are there any other points you wish to raise during this interview?
After Russia’s attack against Ukraine in 2014 and later, Vilnius was better prepared to the malign information attacks than other European countries, such as the UK or Germany. Lithuania’s expertise and proficiency in protecting its information environment, identifying, tracking and neutralizing malign topics and themes, and debunking fake news as well as counter information and psychological operations grew rapidly and earned well-deserved respect among Lithuania’s allies.
The success lies in the way strategic communication is organized – its model rests on the decentralized and often informal cooperation among state and civic society, the core of such cooperation is mutual trust. At the state level, government institutions assess the information environment according to their areas of responsibility and competence.
The civic society is directly engaged in the national information environment monitoring, fact checking, and strengthening society’s media and information literacy. A lot of work is undertaken by civic activists volunteers working in IT, media, academia, education and business sectors, such as Lithuanian “elves”, or a mainstream media initiative, a fact-checking platform Debunk.eu, and many others. Civic society organizations in their fields of competence counter disinformation and are active in positive narrative communication.