FNF programs in Thailand and Myanmar nominated for Democracy Award

WFD 2019

Southeast Asia is a battleground for fake news. FNF arms citizens with information on how to counter them.

The Council of Europe invited teams of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) from Thailand and Myanmar to present their media literacy programs. Both successful projects raise awareness on the issue of fake news, and encourage citizens to become responsible media consumers.

FNF Thailand’s Media and Information Literacy Card Game and FNF Myanmar’s media literacy television series MIL Kyi (Just Ask) will be presented at the World Forum for Democracy (WFD) in Strasbourg, France on November 6-8, 2019. FNF’s projects will be amongground-breakinginitiatives from all over the world immunizing societies against disinformation.

WFD is an annual event and a platform for dialogue and democratic participation. Organized by the Council of Europe, the forum deals with challenges facing democracy. This year, WFD addresses the subject of Information and Democracy, looking at how “the volume, content and platforms have evolved beyond recognition in a short period of time.”

Five key questions in Thailand

Tackling fake news by law has the potential to stifle free speech. Under Thailand’s Computer Crime Act of 2017, sharing of alleged fake news can result in imprisonment or financial penalties. The military government used this law against the democratic opposition. FNF calls for education instead of censorship and takes action. The office in Thailand created the Media and Information Literacy Card Game to teach a critical approach to media content. Developed in 2017 with the Thai Media Fund, the card game is intended for primary and secondary students. The game presents situations young people face in everyday life. It provokes participants to thoroughly and critically assess how issues affect their media consumption behavior through five key questions:

Who created this message?
Which techniques are used to attract my attention?
How might different people interpret this message?
Which lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented, or missing?
Why is this message being sent?

“The game has been introduced to more than 600 Thai and international students. We continue to receive a high volume of requests from schools and civil society organizations so that they get oriented on this edutainment tool,” said Mary Dusadeeisariyakul, FNF Thailand Program Manager.

WFD 2019 Thailand
FNF Thailand introduced gamification in 2012. Their games have been played in as far as Zimbabwe.

Myanmar prepares for more virulent times

A report published by an UN independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar highlighted the significant role of Facebook in the spread of hate speech leading to serious human rights violations and abuses. Political analysts also expect that hate speech and fake news campaigns will become more virulent in time prior to Myanmar’s next parliamentary elections in November 2020.

To counter this, FNF Myanmar designed its Media Information Literacy Project or MIL Kyi, which translates to Just Ask in Myanmar language. MIL Kyi is a 12-episode weekly video broadcast that provides information on media literacy, discusses topical issues, and presents the insights of experts and the public through interviews. Produced in cooperation with the Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO) and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), MIL Kyi is the first media literacy television series in Myanmar.

“Facebook is not only used for social communication, but also for social and political mobilization. This is why we created a program that goes beyond media literacy, but also supports the overall democratic transition of the country,” pointed out Aung Thu Hein, FNF Myanmar Program Manager.

The latest episode of MIL Kyi

FNF as the creative innovation platform

This is the third time that FNF Thailand is participating in WFD. In 2014, it showcased SIM Democracy, a board game that simulates citizens’ roles in a democratic society. In 2015, it presented Dream Thailand, a platform for the youth to voice out their opinion, and for political parties and the government to reach out to the young generation.

FNF Philippines also took part in WFD in 2013, introducing its campaign It’s All About Freedom to a global audience. Its innovative formats, like the Freedom Run, bring civic education outside of the classroom.

“Innovation does not always have to be digital. It is a mindset that we have embraced as a liberal organization. We believe that each one has the capacity to come up with solutions to help societies to become better,” shared Moritz Kleine-Brockhoff, Head of FNF Regional Office for Southeast & East Asia.

WFD 2013 Philippines
FNF Philippines at WFD in 2013

FNF has produced publications on fake news. Download them here.
What can be done to counter fake news?
Democratic Decay and Disinformation in the Digital Age