1st International Event in Lithuania

Open discussion citizens regarding disinformation

3/15/20244 min read

“Democracy over Disinformation” project aims to investigate the impact of disinformation and other distractions on democratic debate and to combat these phenomena by improving citizens' media literacy. The project is implemented by 3 organizations in 3 European countries - Lithuania, Germany and Italy.

Project goals:
1. To raise awareness about the phenomena of disinformation and fake news and the importance of media literacy, especially in relation to democratic debate.
2. To promote intersectional cooperation by including municipalities, libraries, universities in the project, schools, (youth) non-governmental organizations, youth centers and thus ensure the project success.
3. To create a network of partnerships between Eastern, Western and Southern European countries to work together for the EU's prosperity and spread its values.

The first International conference of the CERV project “Democracy over disinformation” was held November 22th, 2022 in Kaunas, Lithuania. This 1st international conference included an open discussion citizens regarding disinformation and the effects of its interference on democratic debate, comparing situations in different countries; media literacy workshop (training) with journalist and media specialist.

Firstly, we have presented upcoming conference information to our organization members and youth in our local communities. Secondly, we have shared information in our organization’s website and social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram). Unique Projects Facebook page is our one the main channel’s where we have already collected more than 10k followers. We had presented the International conference “Democracy over disinformation” by a Facebook post. Link: https://www.facebook.com/uniqueprojectseu/photos/a.898178646877191/6187721184589551/.

To reach those who are not our followers, we made a Facebook event, because this tool helps to reach other, familiar or related to the topic, according to Facebook algorithms. Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1271663880356232/. Partners from Italy and Germany have also shared upcoming conference information through their organizations channels.

To ensure wider visibility we have streamed the biggest part of International conference online:

I part: https://www.facebook.com/uniqueprojectseu/videos/1128781894449775/

II part: https://www.facebook.com/uniqueprojectseu/videos/1313427049470822/

The conference started at 10 am on the 22nd of November, 2022. All event was held in English language. The first part was the introduction part (around half an hour) which was dedicated to introducing participants to the project's purpose and aims, also introducing the speakers and their topics. After that, some warming up activity took place.

In the second part (around the hour) we had an open discussion about disinformation's effect on society, based on different country's experiences. All participants were active and involved in the discussion. People from different countries have shared when was the last time they saw disinformation on the internet, from the scam related to robbing the money of naive people to government decisions, even touching on very sensitive topics about refugee crises and human trafficking.

Further we had training session with a journalist about the importance of media literacy and how to identify and tackle fake news. In this part, we had a great professional speaker Ignas Kalpokas, the head of Journalism master study from Vytautas Magnus University. He introduced the audience why to speak about media literacy is very important by providing practical events and examples. Besides, during this part of the session, the fake information was shown by marking the points where everyone should concentrate to notice it, so participants could learn the skills to analyze the visual information. And the last part was a conclusion we had a sum up of all conference about what we have heard and learned, questions and answers session.

A direct impact was made to the 66 people, who attended the conference in the place. We had a very diverse participant age range - the oldest was 57 years old, and the youngest – 15. It was very important, because, the different points and experiences were shared during the discussion and all age groups could hear others.

Feedback from participants:

Feedback from the concluding "Democracy over Disinformation" conference, as indicated by evaluation forms, was overwhelmingly positive. The majority expressed satisfaction with the conference, citing an enhanced ability to verify information sources and a greater confidence in identifying fake news. Participants valued the practical strategies offered for addressing disinformation in personal and professional settings. The diverse range of perspectives and expertise showcased was widely appreciated. Numerous attendees expressed newfound enthusiasm for engaging in conversations regarding democracy and disinformation, and many would enthusiastically recommend the conference to others, underscoring its overall success and significance.

Project is funded by the "EU Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values" programme of the European Union.

*Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.