DECLARATIONS OF INTERDEPENDENCE: HOW MEDIA LITERACY PRACTICES ARE DEVELOPED, NEGOTIATED, REJECTED, AND EXPLOITED ACROSS SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Keywords:Social Media, Media Literacy, Media Manipulation, Blackness, Algorithms
The primary goals of media literacy are laudable: active and critical thinking about the messages we receive and the messages we create. In practice, media literacy standardizes limited ways of knowing and normalizes built-in biases. Subsequently, its narrow emphasis on skill development, particularly the role of fact-checking, content creation, and independent research are all practices that can be exploited, oftentimes leading to the amplification of misinformation. Homogeneous media literacy also assumes that platforms are neutral – codifying a dominant, neoliberal, racist lens as a competency. Social media literacy in particular assumes the norms of proprietary algorithms, arming users with the skills determined by Silicon Valley’s corporate, individualist, white supremacist values. Contemporary high school curricula teaches students to ably brand and promote themselves; adept meme creators are rewarded for racial appropriation and fungible performances of Blackness; vanity metrics foster reputation anxiety in social media’s ‘success theatre’; personal data protection is an arguably futile lesson in privacy that preaches paranoid gated communities; fascist media pundits easily exploit conservative media literacy practice of “doing your own research” to naturalize misinformation. What are the implicitly raced, classed norms of reading "correctly"? What are mundane emancipatory reading practices? What alternative literacy practices do users deploy to reject these individualistic, racist standards? What does interpretive media literacy look like? This panel offers a portrait of what’s missing in media literacy and explores visions of interdependent practices that offer alternative methods of active and critical thinking about the messages we receive and the messages we create.