Media literacy is necessary, to be able to figure out what is false and what is true among so much questionable information on the internet and social media, US expert Louis Jacobson told CNA. It is important, he said, to use critical thinking and be more cautious when sharing things online, particularly those that motivate us in an emotional way.
Jacobson, senior correspondent with PolitiFact and an expert in media literacy, integrity in journalism, and identifying disinformation, was in Cyprus last week, for a series of presentations and discussions on these issues with organisations, journalists, and educational institutions, organised by the US Embassy in Cyprus.
In an interview with CNA, and, asked whether media literacy was useful, Jacobson said that it was more than just useful, “it’s really necessary”. “There’s so much questionable information on the internet and social media that people really have to fend for themselves, what is false and what is true”, he said.
Journalistic outlets like the one he works for, he added, can help with that. “We try to provide reliable information about what is true or false, or somewhere in between but ultimately people have to use their own critical thinking and their own sense of judgement and not just simply share the first thing that cross the social media cue”, he said.
He urged internet users to pause a second and think about whether it might not be true, and look deeper into the sources been cited and look at what other websites and social media are saying about the same information.
He referred to the importance of teaching people from a very early age, kindergarten through high school, to use their critical thinking and not just simply assume things that they see are correct.
“It should be internalised with people, being sceptical about what they see, having the skills to really look deeper and not just blindly share things, but rater try to figure out if they make sense, if they are true or not”, Jacobson adds.