IGF 2022 Lightning Talk #37 Mobilizing Youth To Combat Mis-, Dis-, Malinformation (MDM) In Civil Society

Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (10:50 UTC) - Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (11:10 UTC)
Speaker's Corner

Girl Security
Lauren Buitta, Girl Security, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG) Amulya Panakam, Girl Security, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Lauren Buitta, Girl Security, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG) Amulya Panakam, Girl Security, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Onsite Moderator

Caleb Olumuyiwa

Online Moderator

Lauren Buitta, Amulya Panakam


Amulya Panakam



Targets: 4.5: MDM disproportionately affects minority and vulnerable populations, targeting those with limited digital skills, access, and resources. Specifically, MDM can increase the digital divide between vulnerable populations and education. Through this session, the speakers will examine this aspect and explore different policy recommendations. 4.7: By tackling MDM, and utilizing the potential of youth and their understanding of social media/mass media, peace builders can better understand democracy and peace and its relation to online disinformation campaigns, which are often designed to sow discord and silence the voices of marginalized communities. MDM often exacerbates human rights issues and political radicalization involving youth is critical to the future of equitable sustainable development in the digital domain. 5.1: Gendered disinformation and propaganda threatens women and girls’ rights. Attacks often portray women and girls as inherently untrustworthy and overtly emotional, but building a safer and more inclusive digital space for them can help create a framework that is uplifting and supportive. By involving young women and girls in this process, peace builders and policymakers can combat gendered disinformation to empower women and girls. 5.5: As mentioned above, gendered disinformation can hinder women’s participation for leadership and decision-making, and the presentation of women often leaves their capabilities undermined. Educating youth, and preparing them for our media-saturated world can enable next generations of women to fairly and equally participate in government, and reduce the biases and stereotypes towards women. 5.6, 5.b: Enabling technology and using it to empower women is critical to creating an equitable digital society, as it allows women to bridge the digital gender divide. Radical narratives that emerge from MDM can have damaging consequences for marginalized groups, including women and populations of color.​​ Therefore it is imperative to empower and educate young women to promote social cohesion and awareness, and to encourage positivity and democracy online. 16.7: MDM can distort truth, and disrupt democratic processes. MDM is powerful in creating targeted messages that influence the public, and ensuring future participatory and representative decision making starts with involving youth at every step. Creating opportunities for youth to voice concerns and expressions online is vital to civic engagement and to confronting MDM at the root. 16.8: By creating a more equitable digital domain, developing countries have more opportunities to participate and grow. Through mitigating MDM, and sustainably building a more positive outlook towards the internet, youth and others can sustainably use the internet for freedom of expression without fear of retribution, search for economic opportunities, and service this idea to spread institutions of global governance. This session will discuss the social, political, and economic impacts of mobilizing youth to spread democratization. 16.10: According to a Harvard study, MDM is linked to lower trust in media and government. MDM deters public access to information and endangers fundamental freedoms. MDM’s implications pose threats to the right of having a free and fair election, critical health information as demonstrated during the pandemic, and additional pervasive impacts. MDM has caused physical threats and harassment towards poll workers in the United States, Russia has used information warfare as a tactic in their invasion of Ukraine, and MDM has rapidly advanced inaccurate information about COVID-19 across the globe. MDM threatens access to accurate information, especially for vulnerable populations like youth and women. Teaching younger generation media literacy skills and mobilizing them can help ensure access to information in an increasingly more authoritative digital age. 17.17: This session will focus on creating and strengthening partnerships between civil society, government, and the public. There is often a disconnect between institutions on how to tackle misinformation, and this session will expand on the strategies, tools, and policies that strengthen youth’s ability towards MDM, while also promoting awareness and education about the topic.



Duration (minutes)

With the proliferation of mass media into our daily lives, youth have been disproportionately affected by Mis-, Dis-, Malinformation (MDM). Through this dynamic and engaging session, Girl Security will engage attendees in a discussion about the far-reaching impact of MDM on youth; identify the necessary approaches and policies to support youth in the digital domain; and offer recommendations for how to mobilize youth to combat MDM. Girl Security is the only civil society organization in the world preparing girls, women, and gender minorities for security pathways. Girl Security has partnered with international organizations, including UN Women, to create a toolkit for teens on MDM, outline the specific negative outcomes towards youth, and work to create solutions. Girl Security has also worked to combat misinformation by creating election misinformation resources, including a Girl’s Guide to Election Security. This session will explore and examine those resources and answer the following questions: To what extent does MDM impact youth, and what are the real-word consequences of MDM on youth? What government policies and regulations should be implemented to build resilience against MDM in youth, while maintaining freedom of expression and access to information in the digital domain? This session directly relates to IGF 2022’s theme of Enabling Safety, Security and Accountability. Through empowering and educating youth, we are building a more resilient societal response to MDM, and aiding democratic processes. Links to background resources: UN Women & Girl Security “Navigating Disinformation” Course Modules: https://unw.thinkific.com/courses/navigating-disinformation Girl Security “Disinformation, Cybersecurity, and Democracy” Learning Modules: https://girlsecurity.thinkific.com/courses/disinformation-cybersecurity… Girl Security’s “A Girl's Guide To Election Security”: https://girlsecurity.thinkific.com/courses/electionsecurityguide Amulya Panakam’s (one of the session organizers and speakers) article, “Combating Misinformation through Media Literacy Education” published in the Center for Strategic and International Studies: https://defense360.csis.org/combating-misinformation-through-media-lite… The session organizers intend to utilize this session in order to educate, and better inform researchers, government organizations, and more about the impact of MDM on youth. Through an intergenerational approach, this session will feature an informative and interactive presentation, and will be supplemented with a background paper and other educational resources. The session organizers hope that the audience and participants will learn about utilizing younger generations to combat the increasingly and more prolific use of MDM as a weapon.

This session will utilize a number of interactive elements that will help bridge the onsite and online speakers and attendees. The session speakers will utilize elements like poll features, active moderation of comments (both online and onsite), interactive classroom tools like nearpod.com, brief discussions/breakout rooms to gauge the audience’s interests, and develop their knowledge on this topic. Both onsite and online attendees will have access to the same digital platforms to ensure cohesiveness. Girl Security will employ learning and engagement strategies to ensure interactive engagement and proactive learning. Girl Security plans to approach this session through strategies to “hook” participants from the very first minute of the session, cooperative learning to facilitate strategies that engage participants to do “group work” related to the session, and lastly checking for participant understanding at the end of the session.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Some of the takeaways from the session include identifying methodologies for involving youth within the local, state, and federal levels of government. The speakers identified some possible ways to do this, by establishing a youth advisory council, implementing media literacy education, and by supporting local journalism. We dived into the specific ways this could be done, and how this could reduce the amount of MDM faced by youth.

Takeaways included identifying the impact of gendered disinformation on pushing women out of the political arena, and the global rise of it. The speaker also noted hierarchies within civil society, and best practices to support youth and women.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Calls to action include working with civil society groups, from youth to community organizers. The stakeholder call mostly included civil society, more specifically youth, women, marginalized groups, and local leaders.