To Combat Online Falsehoods We Need to Restore Mainstream Media to Former “Glory”

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Lianhe Zaobao, 30 Mar 2018, To combat online falsehoods we need to restore mainstream media to former “glory” (summarised translation)

Nicholas Fang, MD of Blackdot Media and Professor Lim Sun Sun, Head of HASS at SUTD, were the final expert witnesses to present evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods.

Both spoke in their personal capacities. Both experts agreed that fact checking efforts needs to be stepped up as a critical bulwark against online falsehoods.

Prof Lim added that the most ideal situation is for multiple stakeholders to engage in fact checking, and this includes media and technology companies as well as civic society organisations and groups. She noted that in the preceding weeks, many witnesses had highlighted the importance of media literacy as a solution to online falsehoods. However she explained that this would not be easy to achieve because the dramatic transformations in our media landscape mean that media literacy is an increasingly multi-faceted competency.

She also stressed that for media consumers to be completely discerning, they need to constantly learn new apps and new technological affordances, they need to understand industry shifts in the forms of mergers and acquisitions among media and technology companies that have implications for how users’ personal information is shared, and they need to keep up with different emerging media genres as well.

Prof Lim shared that as a media professor herself, she finds it challenging to constantly keep up with all of these changes, let alone the average media consumer. Hence she argued for more resources to be poured into media literacy education in order to make it more sophisticated so as to better help consumers adapt to the increasingly complex media landscape.