First Draft was founded in 2015 under nine organizations brought together by the Google News Lab. Their aim is fight mis- and dis-information. Backed by Meta, Twitter, and the Open Society Foundations, their educational programming has reached 100,000's of learners.
Role of learner
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"My bosses and I started to think, how do we keep training people and giving them tools to understand how to spot and talk about mis- and disinformation that doesn't ‘Zoom them out?’"
▶️ Reached over 2,000 members of the general public (American voters) in a matter of weeks before the election
▶️ Led to focus on multiple messaging modalities to ensure widest learner accessibility
▶️ Prepped voters with tangible new behaviors for fact checking political claims
In the fall of 2020, the First Draft team noticed an increasing quantity of misinformation targeting both English and Spanish speaking communities. Many of these communities were met with an overwhelming amount of noise on social media and TV, yet lacked the tools to sort fact from fiction.
With most Americans working from home during the pandemic, First Draft couldn’t easily put on in-person training, and they didn’t want video training to languish due to the monotony of Zoom calls and media browsing. Additionally, the election was approaching and they needed to deliver learning in a format where they could efficiently launch courses in multiple languages quickly.
First Draft created Protection from Deception, a two week text message course designed to teach communities how to protect themselves from misinformation.
The course began by covering the basics of how false information is presented, before teaching tangible fact checking skills, such as how to reverse image search or verify a digital account’s identity. Garcia’s team focused on keeping the course language relatable and conversational, in order to allow learners to share these new skills within their own social circle. They loved the conversational nature of questions delivered through messaging tools as well as the use of emojis.
First Draft focused on sticking to the most important topics and skills in their course, to lower time requirements for learners. As the course rolled out, they were immediately able to learn what was working and what wasn’t which has enabled them to improve their initial offering and expand misinformation training to communities across the world.
First Draft were able to dramatically improve access to their education by using Arist. Voters who have historically been overlooked by educational efforts due to their remote location or lack of internet were able to tune in via multiple messaging modalities (including SMS). In a matter of a few weeks they had reached 2,000 learners in two languages. Learners responded with overwhelming enthusiasm, reporting the need for such programming due to the rise of misinformation.