Identifake to empower youth in Sabah to counter misinformation

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Manu (left), Mohd Hanafiah (centre) and Arus Academy co-founder Alina Amir launching the Identifake exhibition.

KOTA KINABALU (April 19): Identifake, a national initiative which features exhibition and programmes with the aim to empower Malaysian youth to recognise and counter misinformation and disinformation and foster digital citizenship and online ethics, was launched at the Tanjung Aru library here on Friday.

Through collaboration between the United States embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Arus Academy, Biji-Biji Initiative, The Fourth and Malaysia Information Literacy Education (MILE), an Identifake interactive exhibition will be showcased on the ground floor of the library from April 18 to May 12 and will move to the library’s second floor from May 13 onwards, offering a range of engaging activities, bootcamps, workshops and national competitions to help youth become savvy digital citizens.

The participants will gain invaluable insights into techniques to identify and combat misinformation and disinformation, effective tools and resources to promote fact-checking and information literacy in the digital age, and experienced journalists and subject-matter experts will lead sessions informing audiences about fact-checking, investigative and mobile journalism and impactful storytelling.

In addition to the interactive exhibition, the library will also host the brand-new American Green Corner on its second floor, an exciting new space which reflects the US’ focus on environmental and climate issues, boasting a podcast studio, a maker-space and a technology zone dedicated to drones, robotics and Augmented Reality (AR) with the goal of becoming a hub for workshops and expert-led discussions on promoting skill development, cultural exchanges and educational programmes in the US.

The Identifake launching ceremony was jointly officiated by US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) Manu Bhalla and Sabah Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (KSTI) Permanent Secretary Datuk Mohd Hanafiah Mohd Kassim.

Manu said false information can have a devastating effect in lives, and it is their hope that Identifake serves as a platform for dialogue, education and action to prevent this from happening through interactive exhibits, workshops and discussions which will allow people, young and old, to learn how to critically evaluate information, recognise bias and distinguish fact from fiction.

He said American Corners are cultural and educational hubs for the local community and are born of strong partnership between the US embassy and local institutions, and the American Corner Sabah, now known as American Green Corner Sabah due to its focus on environmental and climate issues, will also provide information on exchange and educational opportunities in the US.

“As we open launch Identifake and open the American Green Corner Sabah, let us reaffirm our commitment to working together to provide opportunities for our youth and promoting truth, integrity and transparency in the digital space.

“Visitors are welcome to visit the exhibit and to utilise the facilities offered at the American Green Corner at the Tanjung Aru Library. I hope that you will find them fun and interactive,” he said.

Mohd Hanafiah said that KSTI realises that the challenges and risks contributed by technology makes it harder to control the spread of misinformation, but amidst these challenges lies an opportunity to leverage the same technology in the fight against misinformation, hence why the launching of the Identifake exhibit is much lauded.

He said the exhibit will not only teach visitors and participants how to detect false news as a way to counter misinformation, they will also be able to obtain information on exchange and education opportunities in the US, including in the field of journalism.

“And so, l’d like to welcome you all to Identifake, as educators, students, parents, and all visitors learn how to detect fake news, especially on messaging apps and on social media, so that we are not part of the problem; rather, so that we can be part of the solution,” he said.

The national Identifake initiative, which has already seen more than 3,000 participants throughout Malaysia engaged in person and thousands more online, will culminate in a national competition through which participants will create educational videos aimed at countering disinformation, where top participants from Sabah will compete against their peers from Penang, Kelantan, Kedah, Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak.