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Digital Citizenship

VOLUME
ONE

An instructional program to help students untangle the social complexities and ethical dilemmas of the digital world. The Digital Citizenship initiative will educate students on the economics of the Internet and the means by which political bad actors exploit its platforms to pervert the public discourse. Through classroom activities and reference to a wealth of print and audiovisual resources, participants will learn to recognize and counter disinformation and fake news, and take issue with how social media companies commodify their data.


Created by Medicine Hat College librarians, the cornerstone of this educational initiative is its Digital Citizenship eBook series, the first volume of which is available to read and download at no cost. 

Digital Citizenship, Vol. 1:Misinformation & Data Commodification in the Twenty-First Century (2021) includes easily digestible chapters and interactive elements that reinforce knowledge acquisition. It is a major contribution to Open Educational Resources (OER) in the field of Public Interest Technology (PIT).  

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Misinformation

THE FUTURE OF TRUTH & TRUST

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Digital Citizenship, Vol. 1: Misinformation & Data Commodification in the Twenty-First Century introduces the concepts of misinformation, disinformation, and fake news, and considers the development of negative information practices throughout history. The text identifies the factors that have made disinformation so prevalent in contemporary politics and news media, and offers methods to identify and respond to dishonest discourse and phony headlines.

Of Canadians always checked the accuracy of online COVID-19 information, and thereby relied on potentially misleading, false, or inaccurate information (Garneau & Zossou, 2021).

Of Canadians shared COVID-19 information they found online without knowing whether it was accurate. Information sharing habits are influenced by the age group and education level among different Canadians (Garneau & Zossou, 2021).

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In the "post-truth" era, our information environment is fraught. Controversies concerning “fake news” and the authority of experts shape our daily lives; fringe media attack the validity of democratic processes and COVD-19 misinformation contributes to preventable deaths and imperils public health. In the digital sphere, all sources—whether reputable or not—can appear equal.

According to W. Lance Bennett and Steven Livingston in their work, The Disinformation Age: Politics, Technology, and Disruptive Communication in the United States (2020):

Democracies around the world face rising levels of disinformation. The intentional spread of falsehoods and related attacks on the rights of minorities, press freedoms, and the rule of law all challenge the basic norms and values on which institutional legitimacy and political stability depend. (p. xv)

The authority and reliability of information is no longer a strictly academic concern. The sources of disinformation are numerous and can include communications from politicians and political parties, and messaging from groups spreading conspiracy theories, attacking the “scientific evidence surrounding important issues such as climate change […] [and] [inventing] stories to inflame existing social and political conflicts” (Bennett and Livingston, 2020, p. xv).





 
 
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THE NEW
OIL? 

Personal Data

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In addition, the eBook explores the implications of the data economy, a new form of capitalism that “trades exclusively in human futures” (Zuboff, The Social Dilemma, 15:00). It considers the rise of online surveillance, the methods by which companies harvest data, and the means by which users can reassert control of their online selves. It aims to make readers informed and empowered online citizens.

Of Canadians spend at least 3-4 hours online every day, and 15 per cent are spending more than eight hours online per day (Canadian Internet Authority, 2020). 

Of all internet traffic flows through either a Google or Facebook server. Thus, platform companies must be interrogated, better understood and, indeed, governed (Owen, 2019).

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To what exactly do you consent in an app’s Terms & Conditions? How do “free” apps make money? If the new business model of the Internet is based on monetizing our personal data, students and educators must ask: who controls data, to what end, and how do we balance privacy with collaboration and commerce? (Geist, 2020).





 
Read Selected News
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"Facebook whistleblower testifies company is operating in the shadows, hiding its research from public scrutiny'"

SAMANTHA MURPHY & CLARKE DUFFY

CNN Business

 
Watch the Watchers 
"We can have democracy, or we can have a surveillance society, but we cannot have both."
Shoshana Zuboff

We Need Rights To Protect Us From Big Data Surveillance

15-minute video

 SHOSHANA ZUBOFF,

PBS Interview

How Surveillance Capitalism Undermines Democracy

4-minute video

 TAYLOR OWEN,

CIGI

Your phone is trying to control your life

9-minute video

 TRISTAN HARRIS,

PBS

Misinformation & Disinformation

3-minute video

 SARAH GIBBS

MHC library

George Orwell's 1984: Why it still matters

5-minutes

 ORWELL,

BBC

The Story of a Headline

1-minute video

 SARAH GIBBS

MHC Library

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Big Brother Is Listening 
Suggested Podcasts

The goal of this podcast is to have longform conversations about tech, society and democracy from a combined journalist & academic perspective. For each episode, Taylor Owen is writing a column exploring the topic discussed. The podcast gathers a remarkable group of guests and it is published every two weeks.

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In this podcast from the Center for Humane Technology, co-hosts Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin expose how social media’s race for attention manipulates our choices, breaks down truth, and destabilizes our real-world communities. 

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Handouts for Instant Download
"In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible." 
― George Orwell; "Politics and the English Language" (1946)
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Contact

Sarah Gibbs

Instruction & Research Librarian at Medicine Hat College. In addition to her MLIS, she holds a PhD from University College London (UCL); her doctoral research focused on print culture and political communication in the works of George Orwell.

Adrian Castillo

Instruction librarian at Medicine Hat College; he holds an MLIS and International Business degree. Adrian practices librarianship as a form of social activism.

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