Knight Center director talks about fake news

Eric Freedman speaking to faculty and students in Kazakhstan

Knight Center director Eric Freedman recently gave two long-distance guest lectures on fake news to journalism students and faculty at universities in Kazakhstan.

Hosting the lectures were Hodja Ahmed Yassawi Kazakh-Turkish International University in Turkistan and Sarsen Amanzholov East Kazakhstan State University in Ust-Kamenogorsk

Freedman’s lectures addressed the growing prevalence of fake news, misinformation and manipulation that is fueled by social media and threatens democratization, citizen trust in the press and transparency. He emphasized the importance of independent fact-checking organizations such as FactCheck.kz and the continuing problem of governmental constraints on media freedom and access to the Internet in many countries around the world.

Kazakhstan students via Skype

“Unfortunately, the problems of fake news, manipulation and propaganda will never disappear,” he said. He and agreed with a statement in a recent Freedom House report that “if democracy is to survive the digital age, technology companies, governments and civil society must work together to find real solutions to the problems of social media manipulation.”

He told the audiences that “informed citizens are also essential to finding answers to the “problems of social media manipulation.”

He also suggested a series of exercises and activities students can do to detect and fact-check fake news,

Eric Freedman on Skype to Kazakhstan

Professor Karlyga Myssayeva, the vice-dean of the Faculty of Journalism at al-Farabi Kazakh National University, and her colleagues organized the program as part of a media literacy project funded by the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan.

In addition to lecturing, Freedman contributed two chapters to the project’s new handbook of media literacy being published in the Kazakh language.

Myssayeva said in an email, “The students really enjoyed to your Skype lecture. And it was a great motivation for students and for the professors as well.”

Because of the time difference, the lectures took place between 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. in Michigan, which is 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. in Kazakhstan.

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