Themes : Freedom of religion or belief (FORB), disinformation, freedom of expression, hate speech.
Target audience : Best suited to grassroots-level groups/faith communities, civil society organisations and human rights defenders.
To enable participants to reflect on the sources and impacts of disinformation, particularly on our perceptions of the ‘other’.
A twist on the internationally popular whispering game. Disinformation is deliberately introduced into the mix and participants then discuss the real-life implications of this for their own context. A good opener for a session exploring disinformation, freedom of expression and hate speech.
Prepare one slip of paper with the message ‘justice and peace’ on and another with the message ‘freedom for all’ on.
Prepare three slips of paper with the following instruction: In the SECOND round of the next exercise ignore the message you hear from your neighbour and pass on the following message: ‘THOSE PEOPLE ARE BAD!’ Do not show this paper to anyone.
Before the game starts hand the three pieces of paper with the ‘disinformation’ instruction to three randomly chosen people. Try to do this as discretely as possible. Ask everyone to sit in a circle (if the people with the disinformation instructions sit close together ask them to spread out). Explain that we are going to play a whispering game called ‘Pass it on’ and that we’re going to do it twice. Tell people that some people will receive slips of paper and that you are not allowed to show your slip of paper to anyone else.
ROUND ONE (5 MIN)
Give one person a piece of paper with the words ‘justice and peace’ on them. Ask them to whisper these words to their neighbour, who whispers it to their neighbour and so on with the words being passed around the circle. When the message comes back to the first person, ask them to relay it to the whole group. The message usually gets distorted along the way!
ROUND TWO (5 MIN)
Say that we are now going to do a second round of the game. Repeat the exercise using the words ‘Freedom for all’. This time the message should get distorted with ‘misinformation’ from the three people who say, ‘Those people are bad’.
QUICK PLENARY DISCUSSION (13 MIN)
Lead the plenary discussion with the following questions:
The message from the start was freedom for all – what did it end up being and why? (Relate the answer you get to the concept of disinformation).
What impact does disinformation have on us in real life?
Can we believe what we read or hear about other groups?
Is the state/the media/social media in our context a reliable source of information on religion-related issues?
Thank everyone for participating and say you hope that the exercise helped them to reflect on sources of disinformation and the harm it can cause.