MEDIA LITERACY IS A VACCINE AGAINST DISINFORMATION ABOUT ROMA
For Roma, the impact of disinformation is especially concerning, as they are often targeted by misinformation campaigns that perpetuate harmful stereotypes and contribute to discrimination. In Albania, the quality and accuracy of the information concerning Roma is often unsatisfactory, with misleading titles, misinformation, and poor-quality content. Such representations in media often do reflect existing public opinions and have strengthened stereotypes.
Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is a crucial tool in combatting the spread of misinformation and hatred online, however this can prove difficult for Roma, who often lack access to technology and basic education or literacy. When it comes to the digital world, Romani communities face interconnected issues: they experience more online (and offline) discrimination because they’re Roma, and due to structural discrimination, they are often at a disadvantage when it comes to access to technology and education. Systemic antigypsyism means vulnerable Romani communities not only face more online hate, but are often unable to engage effectively with online media in order to fight it. In this way, non-formal education provides a critical opportunity to equip Romani people, particularly Romani youth, with the skills they need to navigate the complex world of information and media. By promoting MIL in these settings, Romani people would develop the critical thinking skills to recognise and challenge misinformation and stereotypical depictions of Roma.
Encourage Romani youth to evaluate and question the information they encounter online by promoting media literacy and education in informal settings such as community workshops and after-school programs in Romani communities. Providing MIL education programs in community centres, libraries, and other non-formal settings can also help create spaces to discuss the importance of media literacy skills and equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to evaluate information from various sources critically.
At the same time, those members of communities who are most deprived of education should be able to access trustworthy information in the Roma language through accessible, needs-tailored infrastructure such as traditional media. Finally, community-based media literacy initiatives would be handy to encourage the production of content informed by the experience and voice of the Romani community itself. Such initiatives might include; citizen journalism workshops and media literacy campaigns.
Media and Information Literacy is essential for developing an informed, engaged, and responsible society. Providing access to technology and the ability to engage with digital content to marginalised groups would not only open up the digital world to them but take their stance and voice into account, emphasising their own position and contributing to framing their own narrative. Crucially, involving young Romani people in the fight against disinformation is a social responsibility and an opportunity. Young people are digital natives and often possess a unique understanding of technology and media. Significant progress is possible through promoting MIL in informal education and engaging young Romani people in this fight.