Read Twice showed us how to be more aware of our digital consumption

Read Twice showed us how to be more aware of our digital consumption

20 March 2024, Bucharest

Five countries, five partners, 30 curious and knowledge-seeking young content creators, hundreds of participants who were part of the EU-funded Read Twice (R2) project, led by Euro Advance Association, whose mission was to raise the level of digital media literacy among youth in Europe, with focus on Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.


Let’s see what Read Twice has achieved since its launch in October 2022 until now – a period in which the need for humankind to develop skills to counter pervasive disinformation has become glaringly urgent, in the face of wars and the development of artificial intelligence as a daily reality.


Gathering the experience


Read Twice aimed to show how small steps build a sense of civic community and responsibility among youth in Balkan societies not known for having high levels of media literacy; to improve said literacy and counteract the spread of disinformation by enhancing critical skills.


For this purpose, 30 young media professionals from the three target countries were sent to capacity building sessions in countries with high media literacy levels (February and March 2023). In Berlin, they had the opportunity to see how Der Spiegel and Deutsche Welle journalists verify the facts they present to their audience. In Porto, the participants saw how the authoritative Portuguese media Público and Radio Nova are doing on the front against fake news.


Teaching the experience


The examples and tools that the youth learned from the experts gave them the confidence to share the acquired knowledge locally in their home countries. Here, Read Twice relied on the so-called peer-to-peer method. The young participants in each country led three training sessions which attracted steady interest.


Overall, hundreds of young people had the wonderful and free opportunity to learn how the pros view Internet content and to use these skills and tools in their own personal digital lives. Read Twice, however, had the vision to make these skills and knowledge reach a much wider audience outside the university halls.


Sharing the experience


For this to work, the approach of the project spread in several dimensions. Apart from doing informative presentations, the young participants also wrote numerous articles dealing with different aspects of disinformation in Europe today. These were published on TheMayor.EU media portal.


Reaching a wider general audience was also successfully achieved by organizing a seminar titled “Immunize yourself against fake news” in Sofia (22 November 2023), where experts from the IT sector, local politicians and academics presented what each of them does in their professional field to counter disinformation attacks. The seminar was also exceptional in that it became a platform for intellectual and philosophical debates on the topic, showing that in Bulgaria there are already people who are doing something about this problem, although there is a need for their work to get more visible.


The next step of the project was reaching out to a wider international audience. To this end, on 12 January 2024, the partners organized a webinar called “Tools and Skills to Detect Disinfo in the News”. It brought together professionals and audiences from all over Europe for presentations, lectures and discussions on various aspects of digital propaganda campaigns giving answers to the questions of how and why they succeed. The event’s closing workshop was extremely interesting, in which journalists from Deutsche Welle and Publico demonstrated tools and techniques for verifying facts – one of which, geolocation by verbal search description, is still under development.


The closing conference of Read Twice took place at the European Parliament in Brussels on 21 February 2024 under the motto “Read Twice, Don’t Repeat Lies”. In this round of experience sharing, politicians and officials from the European institution showed up to share how foreign propaganda campaigns had often attacked them personally as representatives of the democratic process. The event was also well-timed to coincide with the upcoming campaign for the European Parliament elections, where disinformation is expected to be one of the main political players in its own right.


What else has Read Twice achieved in the last 18 months? Beyond the specific data, the consensus reached by its participants was important. The overall agreement was that it will be difficult for disinfo and propaganda to flourish in places where there is a resilient civil society and where the educational system pays attention to this problem from an early age. Also, misinformation and the fight against it will always accompany our lives, so we need to develop and maintain a complex immune system, both individual and societal, by nurturing our critical thinking skills and awareness.


The Read Twice partnership project involves Euro Advance Association (Bulgaria) (as coordinator), Udruga Echo (Croatia) and Se Poate (Romania) associations together with CICANT Research centre (Lusofona University, Portugal) and Alliance4Europe (Germany) as expert partners.


Discover all project results on the official Read Twice project webpage.


Co-funded by the European Union under CERV programme (Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.


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