Tackling digital literacy and electoral resilience

With the 2024 European Parliamentary elections, the digital realm has been overflowing with content pieces around this topic. But how well are we prepared for the impact of AI on the online information flow? Can we easily navigate through misinformation, targeted ads and a political campaigning machine?

We first met Andy Sanchez (Senior Researcher in Media, Technology, & Society) and the Sustainable Media Lab (SML) team at the Society 5.0 Festival. Little did we know that this would not be the last time we would work together.

The strong connection and shared ambitions led to preliminary talks on another collaboration in January 2024. This was also when Andy and Susannah Montgomery (Deputy Director at SML) visited our Showcase event and witnessed the results of the trainee project Synthetic Truths. This project focused on generative AI as well as responsible and innovative collaborations among creators. The team developed a board game designed specifically for makers to explore creative collaborations responsibly and promote reflections on the processes. The game design fitted perfectly with the ambition of SML to develop an exhibit of gamified interventions to promote digital literacy and address misinformation ahead of the 2024 European Parliamentary Elections.

We asked Andy to share his thoughts on this collaboration:

“Our group, the Sustainable Media Lab, has always worked with students to develop playful, interactive displays that help Europeans better understand their digital world. Given that more people will vote in 2024 than any other year in human history, we knew we wanted to apply this approach to supporting fair and informed elections. Our hope is that “fabricated” does just that, through the use of games and interactive moments to make these complex digital topics more tangible and emotionally resonant.

We have long admired the work that DSS does, and we’re thrilled to finally be working together, particularly with support from the Centre of Expertise Creative Innovation. We first saw the DSS game Synthetic Truths in action at the January 2024 Showcase, and loved what it offered creatives to better understand and utilise AI in their processes. Given the fundamental value and flexibility of the game, we saw a clear overlap with our efforts in the “fabricated” project, particularly for evaluating the use of AI and other digital technologies in politics and campaigning. We can’t wait to field-test these ideas at the Mozilla and Society 5.0 Festivals in Amsterdam later this year.”

The collaborative project of DSS and SML, Synthetive: Election Edition, will premiere at MozFest on June 13, 2024. Our alumni Muskan Jain and Birgitte Brander Hessellund Nielsen are bringing this project forward and developing this new edition of Synthetive. This interactive board game will be focused on AI in political campaigns with opportunities for reflection and exploration of intersections of digital literacy, AI and elections. The goal is to spark conversations and foster collaborative learning and critical thinking about the responsible deployment of AI in elections.

In addition to this, DSS will be joining an international, cross-sector consortium of journalists, nonprofits, researchers, designers, and representatives from municipal government, all dedicated to tackling digital literacy and electoral resilience. We constantly seek new collaborations to amplify our efforts in shaping a sustainable future. Join us in these efforts!

“Fabricated: Unravel Fact from Fiction in Your Digital World” is a multi-lingual, traveling exhibition that promoted digital literacy ahead of the 2024 EU Parliamentary elections. So far, the project has been presented in The Hague, Brussels, and Berlin. 1,500+ citizens have already become involved with the “fabricated” project and shared their hopes, concerns, and questions about digital politics.  You still have a chance to experience it in Amsterdam (June 2-7 at Oba Javaplein and June 11-13 at MozFest). Participants will leave with a wealth of resources to continue their education in digital literacy.