What is your role in the organisation you are leading?
My main role is to ensure the conceptual consistency of national education policies at the strategic and tactical levels, namely, analyse educational policy documents and watchdog their implementation, draft recommendations for their improvement and advocacy actions within national authorities. NGOs are closest to the society, and people hence have the best understanding of the education situation on the ground.
Since 1999, I have been leading the House of Europe, a non-profit organisation that aims to raise public awareness on the European and global developments by empowering citizens to be active and conscious members of their national and global communities, strengthen democratic values and cultivate civic activity. Major long-term project that we implemented recently were: Model European Parliament, Media4Development, political watchdogging platform Learn Before You Vote, etc.
How would you describe the mission and expertise of your organisation in the field of media literacy/ critical thinking/ fact checking/ countering disinformation?
What are the main resources developed by your organisation you’d be willing to share?
Major civic initiatives, activities and projects implemented by the House of Europe can be found at http://eurohouse.lt/ (in Lithuanian). Also the Study on Integration of the EU Topics into the General Education Curricular (2019), Analysis of the Local Community and Voluntary Activities in Lithuania (2020), Recommendations for NGOs How to Organise Voluntary Activities in Extreme Situations (2020), watchdogging platform of parliamentary elections 2020.
Which are, in your opinion, the three biggest current challenges related to countering disinformation in your country?
- the lack of trust in the state and government institutions by society,
- the lack of consistency and comprehensiveness of the state building process and the engagement of social partners (which are the main priorities and targets of national development),
- the lack of understanding by state and local government institutions that empowered civic society is the core for national development and resilience.
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?
- building a national coordinated network to ensure targeted and sustainable activities of individual actions and initiatives,
- stronger integration of critical thinking skills in both formal and non-formal education for different public groups (high level education to strengthen the ability to question public information),
- development of national platform for stakeholders of fact-checking, storytelling, critical thinking, and stopping the fragmentation of such activities,
- improving the quality of media and information it creates independently of the business models of media, as well as educating journalists, especially in regional and local media.
What are the top three events or dates you have witnessed this year that have caused an intensification of disinformation activities?
- COVID-19 pandemics,
- elections of the US president,
- the launch of the unsafe Russian-Belarus nuclear power plant Ostrovets,
- the national parliamentary elections 2020.
In your opinion, which future three dates/events are likely to bring about the intensification of disinformation activities in 2020-2021?
- Vaccination from COVID-19 virus,
- Geopolitical development in the EU Eastern flank (events in Belarus, developments in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and other Eastern Partnership countries),
- EU-China relations.
What are the prevailing disinformation narratives you have observed in the media space this year.
Currently, as one could expect, there are many malign COVID-19 narratives circulating: conspiracy theories (the fortune building plan by the world elite, the plan of depopulation of the planet, military biological laboratories create the virus, vaccination chips, 5G technologies are spreading the virus, NATO and the EU are falling apart as they failed to cope with the pandemics, the EU and the U.S. are no longer reliable allies, etc.).
Other group of narratives is aimed at national government to undermine any state’s initiative and its reputation, to weaken public trust in the government, etc.
Narratives of controlling the past, history interpretations are always on the agenda, depending on the political calendar. For instance: the anniversary of the WWII, the history of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters – the longest resistance in Europe against the Soviet occupation, the holocaust, the Gulag, etc.
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?
There were some cases of debunking rumours against the Covid19 vaccine, cases related to Lithuanian history, as well as national security issues, such as developments in Belarus or the electricity from the unsafe Ostrovets NPP flow into the Baltic energy market.