How would you describe the mission and expertise of your organisation in the field of media literacy/ critical thinking/ fact checking/ countering disinformation?
Civic Resilience Initiative focuses its activities on increasing the resilience of Lithuanian and other societies of the region through the means of engaging education. The organisation aims to increase the resilience in the spheres of security, media-literacy, disinformation, civil and grass-root activities, empowering the civil societies to actively engage in educational activities themselves. CRI aims to encourage people to think critically and to become more media literate. Our motto is: identify, facilitate, catalyse, which defines the educational approach CRI tries to apply in the region.
What are the main resources developed by your organisation you’d be willing to share?
We have a recent educational video to share, as well as several educational booklets:
Which are, in your opinion, the three biggest current challenges related to countering disinformation in your country?
One of the biggest challenges we face today is countering online disinformation, being able to spot it and not spread it. But this does not mean disinformation is always “false” or untrue. Spreading half-truths, mixing facts with fiction or reusing content out of context are common practices that aim to confuse the readers. Luckily, media and information literacy gives you the tools you need to find the answers. Unfortunately, Lithuania is subject to intense disinformation activities. Five years ago, the flow of disinformation on the news portals increased dramatically. That was the reason to start to fight back.
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?
While fighting disinformation, Civic Resilience Initiative puts the main focus onto education. One of the best means of education that we have developed are small expert meetings with society in the regions. CRI sends a variety of experts, political scientists and activists to talk about the challenges connected with disinformation with locals in smaller Lithuanian cities. This method has proven to be very efficient and has received a lot of positive feedback. Additionally, CRI has released educational publications with short, easily understandable articles with expert opinions in both printed and online versions.
What are the top three events or dates you have witnessed this year that have caused an intensification of disinformation activities?
- COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination;
- NATO military exercises in Europe and the Baltic states;
- October 11 and 25, 2020 – Lithuanian parliamentary elections.
In your opinion, which future three dates/events are likely to bring about the intensification of disinformation activities in 2020-2021?
- Upcoming major NATO exercises in Europe and the Baltic states;
- COVID-19 mass vaccination;
- possible decline of the NORD Stream II project.
What are the prevailing disinformation narratives you have observed in the media space this year.
Without any doubt, this year’s main narratives were about coronavirus. The main groups of narratives we have seen included conspiracy theories about the alleged creation of the virus, how it is artificially spread in Lithuanian society, how dangerous the vaccines are and how Covid-19 is a bigger plan of societal control together with the 5G tower installation. These narratives are highly dangerous and problematic as they spread deep into the society and inspire people to actively fight against what they perceive as a man-made virus.
Have you been relying on any fact-checking tools? If yes, please describe them or share the links.
DFRLab relies heavily on local disinformation experts and open source tools that are available online for everyone. Some of these tools are: reverse image search tools, RevEye, InVid Video verification, FotoForensics, Botometer and others.
Would you like to highlight any of the disinformation cases you have witnessed/ discovered/ debunked?
CRI experts agree that the latest misinformation and disinformation activities concerning the COVID vaccines is the most dangerous and worth talking about. CRI has noted disinformation about alleged Military Police being used for forced vaccination, about doctors refusing to be vaccinated themselves, but also about severe side effects of the vaccine for those who were jabbed. These cases of fake news have been debunked, yet are still prevalent in some private Facebook groups.
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?
The two main actors actively fighting against disinformation in Lithuania are Lithuanian Elves and Debunk.eu. These two organizations often work in tandem, and are experts in not only finding disinformation, but also actively countering it online.
Are there any other points you wish to raise during this interview?
Civic Resilience Initiative wishes you to stay resilient in 2021!