DML Executive Summary: Italy

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DML Executive Summary: Italy

Italy has taken steps to address digital media literacy (DML), but still has a long way to go. School programs, along with programs implemented by the government and civic organizations are taking steps to move the conversation forward and educate citizens. Following is a high level overview of the current state of DML in Italy, with the data and sources being pulled from the attached spreadsheet.

Misinformation / DML Prevalence

  • The Italian communications' regulator announced that in 2017 there was a major emergence of "fake news" in Italy. With seven out of 10 Italians stating that they use social media for information purposes, that is a platform where the issue needs to be addressed. Strategies being used to counteract the fake news are an initiative to teach high school students how to recognize both fake news and conspiracy theories, as well as a service through the Italian postal police which allows people to report news that they believe is fake.
  • Some recent examples of fake news in Italy are a video of a migrant on a train that was reported to not have a ticket, when in reality he had a ticket and was only in the wrong seat; a claim that there was proof of a ballot stuffing initiative to benefit the centre-left Democratic Party in the 2018 election; a report, and many subsequent shares, stating that the Five Star Movement was on track to receive 48% of the votes, when the reality is it was closer to 28%; and a doctored photo of a government minister that indicated she had attended the funeral of a mob boss, rather than that of a Nigerian immigrant.

DML Government Actions

  • In July 2015, Italy established the Internet Rights Charter which established, among other things, that "Everyone has the right to knowledge and education on the internet..."
  • The governmental initiative described above to teach high school students how to identify fake news, "Enough Hoaxes," was started by a former president of parliament who was herself the victim of a media hoax. The program brought together the Ministry of Education, Facebook, Google, and Italy's public broadcaster to create a multi-pronged approach to educating youth in Italy.
  • Although the government has taken relatively limited actions in terms of DML, an initiative to get media sites to self-regulate and a statement by a government official telling the EU to act, indicates that to some extent the government feels that the responsibility for dealing with the issues lies with others.

DML Players

  • Four organizations that are operating at the national level in Italy to promote digital media literacy are Osscom, Osservatorio Permanente Giovani-Editori, Pagella Politica, and Associazione Italiana per l'Educazione ai Media e alla Comunicazione. The initiatives undertaken by these organizations include partnering with Apple to advance student's critical thinking skills, specifically in the area of digital media literacy; and partnering with Facebook to track down fake news in Italy.
  • The other players found are all organizations that operate internationally and include the Centre for Media Pluralism and Freedom, IREX Europe, and All Digital. Initiatives in Italy by these groups include sponsoring All Digital Week and publishing reports on the state of media literacy.

DML Initiatives

  • Research identified one initiative related to developing policy, one research initiative, and three initiatives based on engaging end-users. All the initiatives were focused either on media use or critical thinking. The identified initiatives focused on a wide variety of people including children professionals, and teens.
  • The teen initiatives include the Youth-Publishers Observatory, which began including digital media literacy in 2015 and has educated over 45,000 teachers and millions of students; and the Growing up together What's Up program which focuses on mental health but utilizes digital media literacy as a tool to promote mental well-being.

The Future of DML

  • Many experts have weighed in on the importance of DML and what it may look like in the future. The experts include organizations such as the S.C.A.T.T.I. project, We Turtle, journalists, and professors.
  • Education was a common theme as it was mentioned in terms of civic education, as well as education for students.
  • Other topics that were discussed by the various experts were the critical role DML will play in student development, how to protect minors, digital minimalism, and managing hate speech.

The report can also be found in the attached Google document.