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Media & Information Literacy: An Avenue for Youth to Combat Hate Speech, Misinformation & Disinformation

28 November 2023(Last update: 29 November 2023)


The biggest convening of youth in The Gambia occurred this week at the third annual Youth Connekt. With the theme “Moment for Youth: Action for More Socio-Economic Development”, the event attracted crowds of youth from across the country and from numerous organizations who participated in sessions focused on gender, leadership, entrepreneurship, and peacebuilding among others. Leveraging the power of youth as stakeholders of peace, the UNESCO Dakar office supported Gambia’s National Youth Council’s parallel session on using media and information literacy to combat critical issues such as hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation on October 24th 2023.

Osrain Kargbo, an academic took participants on the definitions of misinformation, hate speech, and disinformation. “It is important that as young people you understand what these terms mean so you are able to identify them and stop them in their tracks.” He further provided that young people must think critically before disseminating information that they receive as this is the way to maintain peace.

Isatou Keita, Vice President of The Gambia Press Union elaborated on the role of the media in curbing hate speech, misinformation and disinformation. “It is the job of media personnel to engage in fact-checking to verify their information before sharing it. There is also an influx of young people in the journalism profession and it is necessary to provide them with the relevant training to fact-check information and the skills to identify misinformation and disinformation so they do not contribute to its spread.”

Fanta Sanneh, from Gambia Participates a youth-led civil society organization working within the accountability space shared that youth have a major role in combatting misinformation and disinformation. “The Gambia is in a fragile state due to the spread of hate speech, misinformation and disinformation which is shared online by young people. Youth need to have the requisite media and information literacy to effectively contribute to national political discourse without using hate speech.” 

Annette Camara from the Women Journalist’s Association of The Gambia added that “Young people need to be extra careful especially during the election cycle as that is when they are most prone to hate speech, misinformation and disinformation.” She further highlighted that women politicians and women journalists are the main victims of hate speech and need better protection in media spaces. Moderator, Jainaba Sonko, also shared her experience of hate speech directed towards her by youth as a female journalist. “Women are mostly the targets of hate speech both online and offline and many youth pass it around like it is nothing. What many do not know is that hate speech and misinformation affect us all and can lead to serious consequences both personally and socially.”

UNESCO’s Ngenarr Yassin Jeng emphasized the organization’s commitment to promoting peace and enhancing peace infrastructures in line with SDG 16. She highlighted numerous activities that UNESCO is doing with youth and media organizations in The Gambia and encouraged youth to join the trainings, especially on media and information literacy in order to enhance their capacity.

During the discussion phase of the panel, participants expressed interest in learning more about media ethics and how to better regulate their content online to avoid spreading hate speech, misinformation and disinformation. Participants were interested in ways of verifying and fact-checking information to which panelists gave tips and suggested contacting the source directly. They were also informed of the access to information law which makes it easier for them to request verifiable information, especially from the government. The session ended with the reiteration of UNESCO’s commitment to working with youth stakeholders and building their capacity in MIL to combat hate speech, misinformation and disinformation.