ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Feb. 23, 2022) – French citizens can learn how to protect themselves from false and misleading information on the internet thanks to a new app-based program from MediaWise, the social-first digital media literacy initiative of the nonprofit Poynter Institute.
With support from Meta, MediaWise launched a 10-day WhatsApp course to help slow the spread of online misinformation in France. The fact-checking training teaches people of all ages how to responsibly engage with the content they see and share across the internet and social media platforms. France is the fourth country to join MediaWise’s international expansion that aims to combat global information disorder alongside Spain, Turkey and Brazil.
“Empowering people to help them to think critically about the media and the information they see is key to ensuring more informed decisions,” said Anton Battesti, Meta’s Head of Public Policy France. “In the run-up to the French presidential and legislative elections, we are delighted to partner with Poynter and our fact-checking partner France 24 to deploy the MediaWise program in France which enables every WhatsApp user to access high-quality resources and tips to spot misinformation and develop into active consumers of information.”
For 10 days, participants receive text messages with simple yet practical fact-checking techniques designed to improve their digital savviness. Each day focuses on one topic such as identifying the dangers of misinformation, recognizing warning signs of conspiracies and scams, understanding algorithms, and talking to friends and family who share misinformation. The daily instructions reference real-world examples of misinformation dominating the news cycle.
“Citizens, communities and countries thrive when everyone does their part to elevate the truth,” said Alex Mahadevan, MediaWise program manager. “That means having the skills to find factual information and reliable sources during crucial moments when misinformation can do the most harm. We’re thrilled to offer this free course to the French population, especially as they prepare to cast their vote in the April election.”
MediaWise partnered with international news channel France 24 of the France Médias Monde group to localize the educational content for the French audience. France 24 is actively involved in the fight against misinformation with broadcasts to 444 million households worldwide including its “Info ou Intox” (“Truth or Fake”) program, daily on-air fact-checking segments, a weekly video module with tips on detecting false news, and an annual edition designed for high school students in France and overseas. With a combined reach of 55 million followers, the network’s digital platforms attract 28.7 million visitors and 158 million video views every month.
France 24’s Alexandre Capron and Pauline Paccard are supporting the initiative as MediaWise’s newest ambassadors who advocate for digital media literacy for all. The two journalists join a prominent community of internationally-acclaimed media professionals including Lester Holt, Joan Lunden, Christiane Amanpour, José Díaz-Balart and Julio Vaqueiro. Capron and Paccard offer professional fact-checking tips throughout the French course to help participants find trustworthy sources, debunk false claims and share credible information.
“At France 24, we track false news on a daily basis, much of it sent in by our viewers in France and the French-speaking world,” said Capron. “The MediaWise course is designed to give viewers some basic tools and reflexes to help them detect false information themselves, and not send it on to their friends and families.”
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About The Poynter Institute
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media, and 21st-century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at newsrooms, conferences, and organizations around the world. Its e-learning division, News University, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered international users. The Institute’s website produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology, and the business of news. Poynter is the home of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, the International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise, a digital information literacy project for young people, first-time voters, and senior citizens. The world’s top journalists and media innovators rely on Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians, and broadcasters. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment, and discourse that serves democracy and the public good. Learn more at poynter.org.
MediaWise is a social-first digital media literacy initiative of the nonprofit Poynter Institute. The program teaches people of all ages and backgrounds how to responsibly engage with online content in the age of information overload. The fact-checking enterprise was created in 2018 to empower citizens to find trusted sources and make sense of the vast amount of information at their fingertips. We bring simple, yet effective, digital media literacy tools to people where they are — whether they’re on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter or TikTok or in one of the five countries where MediaWise operates — and walk them through every step to determine what’s real and what’s not on the internet. Through MediaWise, everyone can do their part to reduce the spread of misinformation and elevate the truth. Follow MediaWise on social media to learn how to debunk viral claims and be more critical consumers of online information. Explore programs and be part of the solution at poynter.org/mediawise.
About France 24
France 24 is an international news channel that broadcasts in English, French, Arabic and Spanish to 444 million households around the world, with a weekly viewership of 98.5 million viewers. France 24’s digital platforms attract 28.7 million visits and 158 million video views every month, and have 55 million followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. France 24 is part of the France Médias Monde group with radio networks RFI and Monte Carlo Doualiya. France 24 is actively involved in the fight against false news via its “Truth or Fake” programming (“Info ou Intox” in French): daily on-air fact-checking segments, a weekly video module with tips on detecting false news, and an annual edition designed for high-school students in France and overseas. “Truth or Fake” is produced by the France 24 Observers team.