Digicomlab meeting on digital and media literacy

In April, the Digicomlab organized a special meeting about digital and media literacy for members of the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR). We learned about six projects by ASCoR members on the topic:

Sophie Boerman shared her research into advertising literacy and persuasion knowledge (e.g., regarding influencer marketing, brand placement, and personalized advertising) and digital literacy (i.e., literacy concerning AI and algorithms, and privacy literacy). In addition, she presented an ongoing project developing and testing the effects of a new Kijkwijzer icon that should signal advertising in online videos.

Annemarie van Oosten pitched her research on media literacy in the context of sexual media content, and specifically her study on using natural language processing to assess the reliability and content of online comments dealing with sexual health questions and advice, as part of the NWA Idea Generator grant.

Dian de Vries, Jessica Piotrowski, and Claes de Vreese presented the development of a valid and reliable measure of digital competence – DigIQ. To learn more about DigIQ, and to download the new scale, visit their OSF page: https://osf.io/w8brs/

Toni van der Meer talked about how news media literacy (NML) interventions can be used to stimulate healthier news diets. The effectiveness of such communicative interventions has been studied in three separate experimental studies. The first research looks at stimulating cross-cutting news selection patterns (van der Meer & Hameleers, 2020). In two selective-exposure experiments they observed the conditional effectiveness of such NML interventions, depending on political ideology or issue stance. However, when the interventions were tailored to audiences’ in-group, they were successful across the board. Project two studied the combatting of a negativity bias in audiences’ news selection (van der Meer & Hameleers, 2022), focusing on how exposure to NML interventions concerning negativity bias or click-bait mitigate a negativity bias in self-selection of news, especially for those who already hold a pessimistic outlook. The third project relies on NML literature to understand how to prevent declining trust in legitimate news in the context of fear for misinformation (van der Meer, Hameleers, & Ohme, work in progress). In this context the effectiveness of NML interventions is less straightforward, only for those who are generally more skeptical, an intervention increased more accurate credibility assessment of news items.

Guda van Noort and Corine Meppelink presented their work-in-progress article on a revised Persuasion Knowledge Model (PKM); making this important theory applicable to persuasion driven by AI. In addition to the two key entities in original the PKM (Friestad and Wright 1994) – the target and the agent – this theoretical article argues that a third entity should be added; the media technology.

A study by Hilde Voorveld, Sophie Boerman & Corine Meppelink aimed to identify different consumer groups with respect to algorithmic persuasion by brands on social media, based on people’s awareness of persuasive messages curated by algorithms, their approval of this practice and people’s ability to cope with it. The study revealed four different groups that all require a different empowering strategy.

After the six pitches, a short discussion ensued on how to best develop and target literacy interventions to specific audiences, and the lack of empirically based interventions. Potential funding initiatives for developing interventions (e.g., via libraries) were also discussed. The discussion then moved toward reaching low literate participants for research, in particular the challenge of obtaining informed consent.

The meeting ended with ideas for a future meeting on the topic, potentially looking at ways to find common ground in research on different types of digital and media literacy.

To be continued!