Prague, 3 February 2020 – Can education, age or experience protect a person against misinformation, hoaxes and urban legends? Beginning today, the abilities of the population of the Czech Republic to spot fake news is being mapped by T-Mobile in a test entitled “True or false? Fact or fiction?” (“Pravda nebo lež? Realita nebo fikce?”), which can be launched at http://www.fb.com/1333579026821770/ until 24 February. The test includes twelve stories in the form of short newspaper articles and people are set the task of recognising what is the truth and what is a lie. Some texts are true but hardly believable, whereas the others appear to be credible but are typical fake news.
After the test is terminated, the organisers will evaluate how different regions and education, age and other groups scored in it. “But we do not expect big differences. As we verified last year at TEDxPrague, of which we are a partner, none of us is fully immune to misinformation,” says Martina Kemrová, Corporate Communications Manager at T-Mobile. A total of 171 people took part in the pilot test at TEDxPrague held in autumn last year. Despite the specific socio-demographic group of participants with a higher-level educational attainment who are interested in what is happening around them, the results were not entirely positive. For instance, the correct answer that the warning of the Police of the Czech Republic against the Blue Whale game is nonsense because no such game exists was given by only 38% of the respondents. Similarly surprising was the belief that student Martin Šmíd died on 17 November 1989, with half of the respondents marking this legend as being true.
The stories were put together and the entire project prepared in cooperation with doc. Petr Janeček, an ethnologist at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, who has long focused on the creation and life of urban legends and fake news and is the figure behind the successful series of literary collections of urban legends entitled “Black Ambulance” (“Černá sanitka”). “People have believed in nonsense since time immemorial. It does not matter at all whether it is needles in public transport seats, kidnapping of people for their organs by a black ambulance or stories connected with the present day. The only difference is how these urban legends spread,” explains Petr Janeček.
“We want to show people that just as they believed in alarming nonsense in the past, the same is happening today. Only the technologies change and fake news now spreads faster and is often much more sophisticated. Moreover, it is often directed at especially vulnerable groups such as children and senior citizens,” adds Martina Kemrová, explaining the purpose of the test.
Josef Šlerka, director of the Foundation for Independent Journalism and head of New Media Studies at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, also cooperated on the project and will help interpret the results of the survey. The test is also supported by the website Manipulátoři.cz (“Manipulators”).
In addition to information about the practical ability of people to tell the difference between truth and lies, the test will also offer feedback to the respondents. After each answer, they will receive an explanation of what is real. Everybody can also read ten tips on how to figure out what is true and how to recognise the warning signs of manipulation.
T-Mobile has systematically supported information and media literacy since 2019. Within the We Help (“Pomáháme”) grant programme, T-Mobile distributed CZK 2,133,500 among 13 projects throughout the Czech Republic last year. The recipients of grants included educational institutions, libraries and groups of active people as well as established organisations such as Demagog.cz, Manipulatori.cz and Transparency International. More information can be found at www.t-mobile.cz/pomahame.
T-Mobile Czech Republic, a member of the international telecommunications group Deutsche Telekom, is with its more than 6.2 million customers the number-one operator in the Czech market. T-Mobile is an integrated operator: in addition to converged telecommunications services, it offers TV and comprehensive ICT solutions. It provides outstanding services in the high-speed network, which was proved repeatedly by benchmark testing performed by umlaut (former P3) with Best-in-Test seal.
T-Mobile Czech Republic places emphasis on taking a responsible approach to the environment and society. It adheres to fair business practices, helps beneficial applications and services to see the light of day, supports non-profit organizations, small businesses and individuals, and lends a helping hand whenever crisis situations arise. The company’s employees serve as volunteers in many places across the entire Czech Republic.
More information about the company is available at www.t-mobile.cz, www.t-press.cz (the portal for journalists), www.t-mobile.cz/pomahame (information on the company’s CSR activities) and www.rozjezdy.cz (T-Mobile Takeoffs of the Year – a program to support small businesses).
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