“Innovative Ways to Increase Social Media Proficiency in Sri Lanka” was the theme of a closed-door roundtable hosted by the UNESCO New Delhi office and Mythos Labs on December 8, 2021.
The roundtable mobilized various experts from institutions such as the Sri Lankan government, Facebook, Hashtag Generation, the Ford Foundation and General Sir John Kotelawala Defense University in Colombo.
Speakers deliberated on the rise of disinformation, cyberbullying and harassment online as the world evolves online due to the pandemic. Participants also offered concrete recommendations to help develop the social media knowledge of individuals in Sri Lanka in order to strengthen their resilience, prevention capacities and inclusion.
The discussion consisted of two segments. The first segment set the context for the current online security and social media knowledge landscape in Sri Lanka. Participants emphasized the need to address the spread of hateful online content and conspiracy theories that can lead to hate speech and violence on social media.
The second segment focused on how best to develop social media literacy through a new electronic module under development by UNESCO and Mythos Labs, the “Electronic Social Media and Internet Proficiency Module” for the Sri Lanka (SMILE Sri Lanka). The module, which consists of a series of videos, aims to teach young people about digital privacy and disinformation through comedy and “edutainment”.
The dialogue ended with reflections on the need for strong partnerships and coordinated commitments from all sectors and institutions to mobilize and increase social media literacy in Sri Lanka. The consultation provided key information on the development of a context-specific and culturally appropriate social media literacy module in Sri Lanka, as well as the roll-out of SMILE in schools, universities and partner organizations.