Project Name: Confronting Misinformation in Bangladesh
Project Partner: The U.S. State Department
Project Duration: January 2023- October, 2023
Confronting Misinformation in Bangladesh is a project under the 2022 Alumni Innovation Fund and is funded by the U.S. State Department.
The spread of misinformation has been a major challenge to democracy and peace in contemporary times. Bangladesh has historically been subjected to widespread political and communal violence caused by rumors and disinformation during times of elections and political uncertainty, hindering the smooth functioning of democratic transitions. The popularity of social media and its increased accessibility to the masses has further complicated the fight against misinformation. Further, it is not uncommon for disinformation to make its way into mainstream media outlets. Its reproducers are typically victims of the 'emotional appeal' of rumors and lack the training to discern fact from rumor.
In Bangladesh, with a population of 170 million and thousands of media outlets both electronic and print, misinformation poses an enormous challenge. Actors who reproduce and recirculate misinformation quite often do so out of ignorance and poor judgment. Social media influencers and journalists can play a crucial role in countering misinformation. However, the societal machinery involved in this production is different in every society and country. This context necessitates that the proposed project tackles the issues in two ways. First, through a series of dialogues with journalists and editors, it intends to identify the mechanisms of misinformation at the local level as well as the challenges in dealing with misinformation. We are convinced that without proper identification of the problem, it cannot be effectively fought. Second, we plan to prepare training materials based on the insights gained from these discussions that will be given out through training sessions for the journalists in five divisional cities.