Young people have the power to solve the world’s biggest challenges. Restless Development is a global agency that works with young people so they can lead to solving those challenges. Whether that means supporting communities to stop child marriage, prevent HIV, or end violence against women and girls, Restless Development works with young people to change their lives and the lives of people in their communities. We are facing a pandemic that threatens the well being, economies and livelihoods of all of us, but the most vulnerable communities will be hit the hardest. Restless Development has redirected our resources, efforts & networks to this fight, and with the incredible power of young people, we are ready to lead communities to combat COVID-19 and its effects.
Restless Development have pivoted our work to join together with The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) to launch an initiative, Youth Against Misinformation, that aims to monitor and root out dangerous COVID-19 misinformation online and build the skill-set and agency of young people to understand how misinformation is spread online, identify fake news and develop strategies to tackle it.
This is an exciting new partnership which combines the high-quality technical research, data analysis and policy capacity of CCDH with Restless Development’s decades of expertise in global youth engagement and community-led responses to the world’s biggest development challenges.
It has two aims: to monitor and root out dangerous COVID-19 misinformation online; and build the skill-set and agency of young people to understand how misinformation is spread online, identify fake news and develop strategies to tackle it. Volunteers receive comprehensive training on how to identify, report and respond to harmful misinformation online. It will also give us broad insight into the instrumentalisation of coronavirus by different types of actors - including hate actors, economically-motivated hucksters and others who exploit this crisis.
Youth Against Misinformation has already been launched as a four-week pilot in the UK. To date, 22 young volunteers around the UK have received online training from Restless Development and CCDH.
The young volunteers involved in the programme come from a range of different social, economic and geographic backgrounds, lending the research a unique level of depth and diversity. They were selected from an existing pool of volunteers in the UK and split into three teams and trained in either tracking the spread of misinformation or tackling COVID-19 fake news. The volunteers also undertook risk and safeguarding training to understand how to remain safe online. Team Leaders underwent further training to provide pastoral support for their volunteers.
Currently, the volunteers have dedicated between three and five hours to the project weekly, including weekly project-wide debriefs with the project lead. Through these debriefs we plan to develop and improve the programme around their suggestions and feedback from our volunteers so that it remains relevant and responds to the experiences. By the end of the pilot, we plan to have developed a fully formed programme that can be scaled up in the UK and globally.
While Youth Against Misinformation is currently in its pilot phase in the UK, it does not stop there. Like the COVID-19 virus, digital misinformation knows no geographical boundaries; CCDH has already identified COVID-19 fake news stories that have achieved global reach. In order to tackle the global contagion of COVID-19 misinformation online, CCDH and Restless Development aim to expand Youth Against Misinformation to operate globally, engaging with and training young people around the world to tackle the different digital and fake news challenges they will be facing in their contexts.
A $10,000 grant would cover all of our direct activity costs; our campaign activity and mobile technology and apps required to leverage the misinformation data and take action.