Innovative ways to increase social media literacy in Sri Lanka

“Innovative Ways to Increase Social Media Literacy in Sri Lanka” was the topic of a closed-door roundtable discussion held by UNESCO’s New Delhi Office and Mythos Labs on 8th December 2021.

The roundtable discussion mobilized a variety of experts from institutions including the Sri Lankan government, Facebook, Hashtag Generation, the Ford Foundation, and the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, Colombo.

Speakers deliberated on the rise in misinformation, cyberbullying and online harassment as the world shifts online due to the pandemic. Participants also offered concrete recommendations to help build the social media literacy of individuals in Sri Lanka to strengthen their resilience, preventative capacities, and inclusion.

The discussion had two segments. The first segment set up the context about the current landscape of online safety and social media literacy in Sri Lanka. There was an emphasis from participants on the need to address the spread of hateful online content and conspiracy theories that can lead to hate speech and social media violence.

The second segment deliberated on how best to build social media literacy through a new e-module under development by UNESCO and Mythos Labs, the ‘Social Media and Internet Literacy E-Module’ for Sri Lanka (SMILE Sri Lanka). The module, which consists of a series of videos, aims to teach youth about digital privacy and misinformation through comedy and ‘edutainment’.

The dialogue concluded with reflections on the need for strong partnerships and coordinated commitments from all sectors and institutions to mobilize and increase social media literacy in Sri Lanka. The consultation provided key insights into developing a context-specific and culturally sensitive Social Media Literacy module in Sri Lanka, as well as into rolling out SMILE through schools, universities, and partner organizations.