At a “meet and greet” held in conjunction with an international symposium on digital justice, young people candidly shared what digital injustice means to them. Allowed to speak freely, their list began to reflect the grave consequences of digital injustice on the global young generation.
Something—in fact, many things, they agreed, have to be done—now. With a sense of both urgency and hope, they turned their discussion to solutions: how to tackle hate speech, squelch fake news, and create a digital world with equitable access for all.
One major challenge relate to hate speech, they found, is that artificial intelligence programmed to locate hate speech often ends up targeting the wrong users due to a lack of understanding of the context.
“In a lot of cases, the marginalised group gets it worse than those actually doing the hate speech!” said one young person.
The youth agreed that supporting the person who is a target of hate speech is the priority. They also suggested petitioning companies to improve their hate speech policies.
Young people are also very concerned about what seems to be the growing power of fake news, and expressed deep concern that fake news has become a way for powerful people to avoid accountability.
“People will follow insane ideas!" said another participant. “Some leaders promote information that many times is untrue but because of their position of power many believe and act upon this information.”
Furthermore, many people—especially in poor countries—may not have access to information firsthand and so rely on secondhand information which they cannot fact check and have no choice but to accept as the truth.
In addition, the young people called for education on how to use fact-checking sites.
“Individuals who have no access to digital devices to check the credibility of the news they hear from perhaps a person within their community who has access to the digital platforms experience digital injustice,” reflected a young speaker.
Digital literacy and digital access would go a long way toward creating a more just digital world, suggested the young people.
“Populist leaders and big tech companies take advantage of the limited access of people to news sources and platforms, which is why many people fall into the trap of believing fake news— because that is the only thing available to them,” said a participant.
“The outcome of the ‘meet and greet’ session as well as of the symposium overall proves globality and growing concern by the issue—whatever country you are from, no matter if you have you been a victim of digital injustice or not—common problems caused by it are visible to everyone as it had never been before. To identify these problems, to articulate them publicly – is a first step towards confronting inhumane digitalization,” commented Ukrainian journalist and radio host Katya Potapenko, who moderated the meeting.