Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) and WhatsApp launched a training program. They raised a theme entitled “Women Against Political Hoaxes on WhatsApp Group in the 2020 Regional Election” to encourage female community leaders in four cities as the agents of change in fighting the spread of hoaxes during the 2020 Regional Election.
The training is a sequence of the research entitled “WhatsApp Group and Indonesian Women’s Digital Literacy,” published earlier this year by the UGM Department of Communication. WhatsApp is an extension of social life for most women, where more than half of their WhatsApp groups are family and friends.
Novi Kurnia, as the Head of the UGM Master of Communication Science Program, revealed that 70 percent of the 1,250 female respondents claimed to have up to 10 WhatsApp groups, which are often being sources where they got hoaxes and disinformation. Research conducted shows that 74 percent of women exposed to hoaxes choose not to respond to suspicious messages received to evade conflict.
“We discern that women have the opportunity to make a change in their communities as long as they are provided with the right digital literacy training. This condition is the reason why we are collaborating with WhatsApp to arrange this series of training programs,” she said at the UGM Campus on Monday (19/10).
Concerning the Digital Training Series for Indonesian Women: Women Against Political Hoaxes on WhatsApp In the 2020 Regional Election, Novi highlighted that almost 86.6 percent of the most hoaxes found on WhatsApp were political hoaxes. Meanwhile, as many as 49 percent of the most hoax sources were from WhatsApp groups, friends/alumni.
“There was found that Indonesian women’s average critical competency score was 2.2 in navigating misinformation on WhatsApp. This number is lower than the functional competency, which reached 2.38. Accordingly, it is so important this training is carried out,” she explained.
Novi explained that the digital literacy training series for Indonesian women against political hoaxes on WhatsApp in the 2020 Regional Election is a continuous program of WhatsApp Group Research and Indonesian Women’s Digital Literacy. The goal is to provide Indonesian women to perform an active role as digital literacy agents in fighting hoaxes and hate speech that emerged in the 2020 regional election during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In this training, the organizers will give the participants material in the form of module books, assignment books, video modules, and assignment videos,” she said.
Novi explained that by holding this training, there would be some competencies achieved. Women can use digital media, take advantage of digital media functions, assess information critically, and finally take action against hoaxes.
“96 women from four cities prone to hoaxes, prone to political pressure and prone to pandemics are those in Makassar (South Sulawesi), Mamuju (West Sulawesi), South Tangerang (Banten) and Tomohon (North Sulawesi). Thanks to the UGM Faculty of Social and Political Sciences Master’s Study Program’s collaboration with WhatsApp, CFDs, PR2Media, and Jogja MediaNet, because of them, we can launch this event,” she explained.
Novi, as the training coordinator, added that 58 percent of women in Makassar receive one to three disinformation messages from their group every day. More than three-quarters of the contents of the messages are related to politics.
The training was conducted online through WhatsApp and Zoom Groups on 19-24 October 2020. This training program was also guided by mentoring through WhatsApp Groups for one month after training until after the election.
This training involved ten academics, researchers, and practitioners in literacy and information technology, a collaboration of the UGM Faculty of Social and Political Science Master’s Degree Study Program, PR2Media, and Jogja MediaNet.
One of the training participants registered is Andi Sri Wulandani, a 38-year-old woman from Makassar. Andi has worked for the General Election Commission of Soppeng Regency and currently works as the head of a research institute in Makassar.
According to him, everyone, including himself, uses WhatsApp as the main means of communication to connect with friends, family, and co-workers.
“Without sufficient knowledge and awareness, it is easy for us to get trapped in the information that is not certain the truth. Therefore, I can’t wait to participate in this training and hope that the knowledge I get can be shared with my community. I am sure we can fight hoax together with collaborative efforts,” said Andi.
This training will be held in four selected cities/districts, namely South Tangerang, Mamuju, Tomohon, and Makassar. These four locations have been identified by the General Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and the General Election Commission (KPU) as areas prone to conflict due to disinformation.
WhatsApp APAC’s Public Policy Director, Clair Deevy, believes good technology and increasing digital literacy can solve this issue. According to him, WhatsApp has the best spam detection technology.
“With this technology, WhatsApp detects accounts that display suspicious behavior, such as newly registered accounts that suddenly send large amounts of messages at once. Accounts like this may be misused to spread spam and hoaxes,” he said.
According to Deevy, WhatsApp still encourages its users to check the truth of messages received before sharing them. It is also recommended to always refer to important information to reliable and official sources.
“Hence, we are very excited about working with institutions like UGM to encourage further the involvement of Whatsapp users in fighting hoaxes and disinformation,” she added.
Author: Agung Nugroho