Youth Internet Governance Forum
Combatting Fake News with Education

Young voices in web politics came together at the Youth Internet Governance Forum.
Young voices in web politics came together at the Youth Internet Governance Forum. | Photo: Paul Stender

The Youth Internet Governance Forum has been in existence since 2012. Now, the forum met for the first time in Germany. The Goethe-Institut supported members in the global South in their participation.

At the multi-day summit in Berlin’s Spreepalais, around 100 young people from almost 40 countries had the opportunity to negotiate their web policy demands. The participants between the ages of 18 and 30 are all involved in Internet governance. At the event, they wrote up their specific demands in a catalogue of measures, the result of a three-month, collaborative work process in ten webinars. They include the protection of children on the Internet, the transparency of companies in terms of their algorithms, data, content, rules and decisions, as well as the guarantee of net neutrality and unrestricted Internet access. The Goethe-Institut awarded scholarships to six stakeholders from Malaysia, Brazil, Nigeria, Panama, Namibia and Ghana to enable these young decision-makers from the digital sector to participate in Berlin.

One of the participants during an interview in Berlin One of the participants during an interview in Berlin | Photo: Paul Stender

Digital education is the most crucial topic

For Kayc Alexy James, learning processes are key to shaping digitisation. “We can combat disinformation and fake news on the Internet and achieve more web security only with education,” says the young woman from Panama. James is concerned that false news circulating online is directly harming elections and thus democracies. In her native Panama, she’s observed how the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) is increasing and is already replacing human labour in many areas. Without appropriate regulations, AI can also cause damages, James warns.

Josaphat Tjiho from Namibia agrees with her. Digital education and access to information on the Internet for all people are at the top of his list of priorities. He believes that we need more online platforms that communicate information transparently. He works as media mediator for the organisation MILLI (Media Information Literary Learning Initiative), an initiative by the Namibian College of the Arts and the Deutsche Welle Academy. MILLI trains young people to create digital content on mobile devices without distorted and misleading information. For Tjiho, the opportunities of AI are that machines can do work to take the burden off humans. However, he sees the risk of AI gaining too much control over people or of them becoming too dependent on it. This is why taking on an active role of civil society is very important to Tjiho.

Around 100 young people from 40 countries gathered in Berlin . Around 100 young people from 40 countries gathered in Berlin . | Photo: Paul Stender

More knowledge about cyber security

Aisyah Shakirah Suhaidi from Malaysia also spoke with Tjiho. The law student from Kuala Lumpur works on the Internet Society 2020 Action Plan on goals such as the effective encryption of online communications and secure financial transactions. She was honoured last year as IGF Ambassador for the Internet Governance Forum. Key challenges for her include digital inclusion and empowering people from different communities. “People need to learn more about cyber security and understand what Internet governance means. If you want to raise your voice and know your rights, you need to be informed,” says Suhaidi. Since there are many initiatives working on these goals, she is quite optimistic about the present developments.

What unites all of the participants is their call to strengthen participation by young people. Elisson Diones from Brazil, who is involved in the Youth Observatory, a globally active group of cyber activists, does so by visiting schools and showing pupils how to use the Internet. He emphasises, “Youth has a voice that needs to be heard.”

Wording demands together Wording demands together | Photo: Paul Stender