Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 13

Search results for: disinformation

13 Analyzing the Efficiency of Initiatives Taken against Disinformation during Election Campaigns: Case Study of Young Voters

Authors: Fatima-Zohra Ghedir

Abstract:

Social media platforms have been actively working on solutions and combined their efforts with media, policy makers, educators and researchers to protect citizens and prevent interferences in information, political discourses and elections. Facebook, for instance, deleted fake accounts, implemented fake accounts and fake content detection algorithms, partnered with news agencies to manually fact check content and changed its newsfeeds display. Twitter and Instagram regularly communicate on their efforts and notify their users of improvements and safety guidelines. More funds have been allocated to media literacy programs to empower citizens in prevision of the coming elections. This paper investigates the efficiency of these initiatives and analyzes the metrics to measure their success or failure. The objective is also to determine the segments of population more prone to fall in disinformation traps during the elections despite the measures taken over the last four years. This study will also examine the groups who were positively impacted by these measures. This paper relies on both desk and field methodologies. For this study, a survey was administered to French students aged between 17 and 29 years old. Semi-guided interviews were conducted on a similar audience. The analysis of the survey and of the interviews show that respondents were exposed to the initiatives described above and are aware of the existence of disinformation issues. However, they do not understand what disinformation really entails or means. For instance, for most of them, disinformation is synonymous of the opposite point of view without taking into account the truthfulness of the content. Besides, they still consume and believe the information shared by their friends and family, with little questioning about the ways their closed ones get informed.

Keywords: democratic elections, disinformation, foreign interference, social media, success metrics

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12 Disinformation’s Threats to Democracy in Central Africa: Case Studies from Cameroon and Central African Republic

Authors: Simont Toussi

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Cameroon and the Central African Republic arebound by the provisions of many regional and international charters, which condemn the manipulation of information, obstacles to access reliable information, or the limitation of freedoms of expression and opinion. These two countries also have constitutional guarantees for free speech and access to true and liable information. However, they are yet to define specific policies and regulations for access to information, disinformation, or misinformation. Yet, certain countries’ laws and regulations related to information and communication technologies, to criminal procedures, to terrorism, or intelligence services contain provisions that rather hider human rights by condemning false information. Like many other African countries, Cameroon and the Central African Republic face a profound democratic regression, and governments use multiple methods to stifle online discourse and digital rights. Despite the increased uptake of digital tools for political participation, there is a lack of interactivity and adoption of these tools. This enables a scarcity of information and creates room for the spreading of disinformation in the public space, hamperingdemocracy and the respect for human rights. This research aims to analyse the adequacy of stakeholders’ responses to disinformation in Cameroon and the Central African Republic in periods of political contestation, such as elections and anti-government protests, to highlight the nature, perpetrators, strategies, and channels of disinformation, as well as its effects on democratic actors, including civil society, bloggers, government critics, activists, and other human rights defenders. The study follows a qualitative method with literature review, content analysis, andkey informant’sinterviews with stakeholders’ representatives, emphasized crowdsourcing as a data and information collecting method in the two countries.

Keywords: disinformation, democracy, political manipulation, social media, media, fake news, central Africa, cameroon, misinformation, free speech

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11 Quantifying Stability of Online Communities and Its Impact on Disinformation

Authors: Victor Chomel, Maziyar Panahi, David Chavalarias

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Misinformation has taken an increasingly worrying place in social media. Propagation patterns are closely linked to the structure of communities. This study proposes a method of community analysis based on a combination of centrality indicators for the network and its main communities. The objective is to establish a link between the stability of the communities over time, the social ascension of its members internally, and the propagation of information in the community. To this end, data from the debates about global warming and political communities on Twitter have been collected, and several tens of millions of tweets and retweets have helped us better understand the structure of these communities. The quantification of this stability allows for the study of the propagation of information of any kind, including disinformation. Our results indicate that the most stable communities over time are the ones that enable the establishment of nodes capturing a large part of the information and broadcasting its opinions. Conversely, communities with a high turnover and social ascendancy only stabilize themselves strongly in the face of adversity and external events but seem to offer a greater diversity of opinions most of the time.

Keywords: community analysis, disinformation, misinformation, Twitter

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10 The Issue of Online Fake News and Disinformation: Criminal and Criminological Aspects of Prevention

Authors: Fotios Spyropoulos, Evangelia Androulaki, Vasileios Karagiannopoulos, Aristotelis Kompothrekas, Nikolaos Karagiannis

Abstract:

The problem of 'fake news' and 'hoaxes' has dominated in recent years the field of news, politics, economy, safety, and security as dissemination of false information can intensively affect and mislead public discourse and public opinion. The widespread use of internet and social media platforms can substantially intensify these effects, which often include public fear and insecurity. Misinformation, malinformation, and disinformation have also been blamed for affecting election results in multiple countries, and since then, there have been efforts to tackle the phenomenon both on national and international level. The presentation will focus on methods of prevention of disseminating false information on social media and on the internet and will discuss relevant criminological views. The challenges that have arisen for criminal law will be covered, taking into account the potential need for a multi-national approach required in order to mitigate the extent and negative impact of the fake news phenomenon. Finally, the analysis will include a discussion on the potential usefulness of non-legal modalities of regulation and crime prevention, especially situational and social measures of prevention and the possibility of combining an array of methods to achieve better results on national and international level. This project has received funding from the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI) and the General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT), under grant agreement No 80529.

Keywords: cybercrime, disinformation, fake news, prevention

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9 Information Pollution: Exploratory Analysis of Subs-Saharan African Media’s Capabilities to Combat Misinformation and Disinformation

Authors: Muhammed Jamiu Mustapha, Jamiu Folarin, Stephen Obiri Agyei, Rasheed Ademola Adebiyi, Mutiu Iyanda Lasisi

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The role of information in societal development and growth cannot be over-emphasized. It has remained an age-long strategy to adopt the information flow to make an egalitarian society. The same has become a tool for throwing society into chaos and anarchy. It has been adopted as a weapon of war and a veritable instrument of psychological warfare with a variety of uses. That is why some scholars posit that information could be deployed as a weapon to wreak “Mass Destruction" or promote “Mass Development". When used as a tool for destruction, the effect on society is like an atomic bomb which when it is released, pollutes the air and suffocates the people. Technological advancement has further exposed the latent power of information and many societies seem to be overwhelmed by its negative effect. While information remains one of the bedrock of democracy, the information ecosystem across the world is currently facing a more difficult battle than ever before due to information pluralism and technological advancement. The more the agents involved try to combat its menace, the difficult and complex it is proving to be curbed. In a region like Africa with dangling democracy enfolds with complexities of multi-religion, multi-cultures, inter-tribes, ongoing issues that are yet to be resolved, it is important to pay critical attention to the case of information disorder and find appropriate ways to curb or mitigate its effects. The media, being the middleman in the distribution of information, needs to build capacities and capabilities to separate the whiff of misinformation and disinformation from the grains of truthful data. From quasi-statistical senses, it has been observed that the efforts aimed at fighting information pollution have not considered the built resilience of media organisations against this disorder. Apparently, the efforts, resources and technologies adopted for the conception, production and spread of information pollution are much more sophisticated than approaches to suppress and even reduce its effects on society. Thus, this study seeks to interrogate the phenomenon of information pollution and the capabilities of select media organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa. In doing this, the following questions are probed; what are the media actions to curb the menace of information pollution? Which of these actions are working and how effective are they? And which of the actions are not working and why they are not working? Adopting quantitative and qualitative approaches and anchored on the Dynamic Capability Theory, the study aims at digging up insights to further understand the complexities of information pollution, media capabilities and strategic resources for managing misinformation and disinformation in the region. The quantitative approach involves surveys and the use of questionnaires to get data from journalists on their understanding of misinformation/disinformation and their capabilities to gate-keep. Case Analysis of select media and content analysis of their strategic resources to manage misinformation and disinformation is adopted in the study while the qualitative approach will involve an In-depth Interview to have a more robust analysis is also considered. The study is critical in the fight against information pollution for a number of reasons. One, it is a novel attempt to document the level of media capabilities to fight the phenomenon of information disorder. Two, the study will enable the region to have a clear understanding of the capabilities of existing media organizations to combat misinformation and disinformation in the countries that make up the region. Recommendations emanating from the study could be used to initiate, intensify or review existing approaches to combat the menace of information pollution in the region.

Keywords: disinformation, information pollution, misinformation, media capabilities, sub-Saharan Africa

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8 The Use of Whatsapp Platform in Spreading Fake News among Mass Communication Students of Abdu Gusau Polytechnic, Talata Mafara

Authors: Aliyu Damri

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In every educational institution, students of mass communication receive training to report events and issues accurately and objectively in accordance with official controls. However, the complex nature of society today made it possible to use WhatsApp platform that revolutionizes the means of sharing information, ideas, and experiences. This paper examined how students in the Department of Mass Communication, Abdu Gusau Polytechnic, Talata Mafara used WhatsApp platform in spreading fake news. It used in depth interview techniques and focus group discussion with students as well as the use of published materials to gather related and relevant data. Also, the paper used procedures involved to analyze long interview content. This procedure includes observation of a useful utterance, development of expanded observation, examination of interconnection of observed comments, collective scrutiny of observation for patterns and themes, and review and analysis of the themes across all interviews for development of thesis. The result indicated that inadequate and absent of official controls guiding the conduct of online information sharing, inaccuracies and poor source verification, lack of gate keeping procedures to ensure ethical and legal provisions, bringing users into the process, sharing all information, availability of misinformation, disinformation and rumor and problem of conversation strongly encouraged the emergence of fake news. Surprisingly, the idea of information as a commodity has increased, and transparency of a source as new ethics emerged.

Keywords: disinformation, fake news, group, mass communication, misinformation, WhatsApp

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7 Teaching University Students Lateral Reading to Detect Disinformation and Misinformation

Authors: Diane Prorak, Perri Moreno

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University students may have been born in the digital age, but they need to be taught the critical thinking skills to detect misinformation and social media manipulation online. In recent years, librarians have been active in designing instructional methods to help students learn information evaluation skills. At the University of Idaho Library (USA), librarians have developed new teaching methods for these skills. Last academic year, when classes were taught via Zoom, librarians taught these skills to an online session of each first-year rhetoric and composition course. In the Zoom sessions, students were placed in breakout groups where they practiced using an evaluation method known as lateral reading. Online collaborative software was used to give each group an evaluative task and break the task into steps. Groups reported back to the full class. Students learned to look at an information source, then search outside the source to find information about the organization, publisher or author, before evaluating the source itself. Class level pre-and post-test comparison results showed students learned better techniques for evaluation than they knew before instruction.

Keywords: critical thinking, information evaluation, information literacy instruction, lateral reading.

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6 Citizen Science Policy Process in Finland

Authors: Elena T. Svahn

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Citizen science is an activity where the general public interacts with scientists, co-producing new knowledge on our world in order to advance science, improve society and well-being of humans. In the best case scenario, citizen science makes impossible possible, for instance, by allowing the collection of massive data sets that would not be possible to collect through any other method. Citizen science also increases the general public’s trust in the scientific process, improves information literacy, and decreases the impact of fake news and disinformation. Taking an active role in the improvement of society and participating in the pertaining discourse empowers citizens and encourages them towards a more active membership in the society. Supranational organisations such as the EU, OECD, and UN, supported by international scientific literature, are calling for citizen science to be used as a method for tackling the global wicked problems making way towards SDG 17s. To that end, the Finnish Open Science coordination is outlining strategic principles, objectives, and action plans to ensure that support for citizen science is offered in organisations, in line with the Declaration for Open Science and Research. The policy is drafted for citizen science under the area of culture for open scholarship. The Working group has been tasked with the drafting of the policy and conducting a survey to map opinions and experiences of citizen scientists, researchers, research organisations, and funders on the topic of citizen science. Aim of this study is to evaluate the citizen science policy process in Finland through the policy cycle notion.

Keywords: citizen science, policy, policy process, policy cycle, finland

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5 Identification of Information War in Lithuania

Authors: Vitalijus Leibenka

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After 2014, the world of Russia’s actions in annexing Crimea has seen a hybrid war that has helped Russia achieve its goals. The world and NATO nations have pointed out that hybrid action can help achieve not only military but also economic and political goals. One of the weapons of action in hybrid warfare is information warfare tools, the use of which helps to carry out actions in the context of hybrid warfare as a whole. In addition, information war tools can be used alone, over time, and for long-term purposes. Although forms of information war, such as propaganda and disinformation, have been used in the past, in old conflicts and wars, new forms of information war have emerged as a result of technological development, making the dissemination of information faster and more efficient. The world understands that information is becoming a weapon, but not everyone understands that both information war and information warfare differ in their essence and full content. In addition, the damage and impact of the use of information war, which may have worse consequences than a brief military conflict, is underestimated. Lithuania is also facing various interpretations of the information war. Some believe that the information attack is an information war, and the understanding of the information war is limited to a false message in the press. Others, however, deepen and explain the essence of the information war. Society has formed in such a way that not all people are able to assess the threats of information war, to separate information war from information attack. Recently, the Lithuanian government has been taking measures in the context of the information war, making decisions that allow the development of the activities of the state and state institutions in order to create defense mechanisms in the information war. However, this is happening rather slowly and incompletely. Every military conflict related to Lithuania, in one way or another, forces Lithuanian politicians to take up the theme of information warfare again. As a result, a national cyber security center is being set up, and Russian channels spreading lies are banned. However, there is no consistent development and continuous improvement of action against information threats. Although a sufficiently influential part of society (not a political part) helps to stop the spread of obscure information by creating social projects such as “Demaskuok” and “Laikykis ten su Andriumi tapinu”, it goes without saying that it will not become a key tool in the fight against information threats. Therefore, in order to achieve clean dissemination of information in Lithuania, full-fledged and substantial political decisions are necessary, the adoption of which would change the public perception of the information war, its damage, impact, and actions that would allow combating the spread. Political decisions should cover the educational, military, economic, and political areas, which are one of the main and most important in the state, which would allow to fundamentally change the situation against the background of information war.

Keywords: information war, information warfare, hybrid war, NATO, Russia, Lithuania

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4 Fake news and Conspiracy Narratives in the Covid-19 Crisis: An International Comparison

Authors: Caja Thimm

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Already well before the Corona pandemic hit the world, ‘fake news‘ were no longer regarded as harmless twists of the truth but as intentionally composed disinformation, often with the goal of manipulative populist propaganda. During the Corona crisis, particularly conspiracy narratives have become a worldwide phenomenon with dangerous consequences (anti vaccination myths). The success of these manipulated news need s to be counteracted by trustworthy news, which in Europe particularly includes public broadcasting media and their social media channels. To understand better how the main public broadcasters in Germany, the UK, and France used Instagram strategically, a comparative study was carried out. The study – comparative analysis of Instagram during the Corona Crisis In our empirical study, we compared the activities by selected formats during the Corona crisis in order to see how the public broadcasters reached their audiences and how this might, in the longer run, affect journalistic strategies on social media platforms. First analysis showed that the increase in the use of social media overall was striking. Almost one in two adult online users (48 %) obtained information about the virus in social media, and in total, 38% of the younger age group (18-24) looked for Covid19 information on Instagram, so the platform can be regarded as one of the central digital spaces for Corona related information searches. Quantitative measures showed that 47% of recent posts by the broadcasters were related to Corona, and 7% treated conspiracy myths. For the more detailed content analysis, the following categories of analysis were applied: • Digital storytelling and instastories • Textuality and semantic keys • links to information • stickers • videochat • fact checking • news ticker • service • infografics and animated tables Additionally to these basic features, we particularly looked for new formats created during the crisis. Journalistic use of social media platforms opens up immediate and creative ways of applying the media logics of the respective platforms, and particularly the BBC and ARD formats proved to be interactive, responsive, and entertaining. Among them were new formats such as a space for user questions and personal uploads, interviews, music, comedy, etc. Particularly the fact checking channel got a lot of attention, as many user questions were focused on the conspiracy theories, which dominated the public discourse during many weeks in 2020. In the presentation, we will introduce eight particular strategies that show how public broadcasting journalism can adopt digital platforms and use them creatively and, hence help to counteract against conspiracy narratives and fake news.

Keywords: fake news, social media, digital journalism, digital methods

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3 Critical Thinking for a Global Society: A Holistic Approach

Authors: Natasha Robson

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The 'post-truth', 'surveillance capitalist' world in which we live - a world of psychometric targeting, social media, and pervasive conspiracy theorising - is not a world for which our current education system prepares its participants. Instead, the 2013 reforms scrapped the 'low-content' subject of 'critical thinking' just at the moment when its importance, it might be argued, was becoming greater than ever before. The research the paper will discuss has led to the creation, or formulation, of a new perspective on critical thinking - a concept with an already somewhat contested definition. Using a combination of recent research in neuroscience and long-accepted concepts from the social sciences, this design focuses on the aspects of our thinking that 'let us down' when interacting with information - and with one another. The paper will propose that these concepts can be integrated into the existing curricula and that this would not require a great deal of extra work or training for teachers. The paper will explore these ideas, their utility and applicability in the classroom, and their relevance in the context of the ever-changing modern world. Using evidence from research into ‘metacognition’ (which is not dissimilar to John Dewey’s ‘reflective thinking’), it will propose that it would be relatively easy and incredibly powerful to move to the more explicit teaching of critical thinking in existing subjects in secondary education. The paper will also suggest ways of doing this in the classroom, in the context of various secondary subjects. Using this work, I have already designed and delivered a course teaching these ideas explicitly to employees of Reading Borough Council and will be giving talks to two local schools in the next term. I have also provided local schools with resources on some concepts, such as confirmation bias, and am currently writing a workbook for teachers to easily apply these ideas in their practice. My work in this area has led me to become a Fellow of the RSA, and the intention, when my doctorate is completed, is to engage as far as possible with educators – not only young people but also adults – in the hope that a new relationship with knowledge and information might be created, and a better toolkit for the modern world provided to our learners. Beginning at the most internal – how we make and store meaning in the brain – the discussion will move outward to consider heuristics and biases, problematic mechanisms such as cognitive dissonance, and finally to external contributions to our ‘cognitive fallibility’ – social factors such as group membership and conditioning. By considering how these impact our engagement with one another and with the world, it will be proposed that, with relative ease, these ideas can be taught (with a specifically metacognitive focus) to secondary school learners to help address the growing problems of disinformation and ideological manipulation.

Keywords: cognitive science, critical thinking, metacognition, education

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2 Understanding Strategic Engagement on the Conversation Table: Countering Terrorism in Nigeria

Authors: Anisah Ari

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Effects of organized crime permeate all facets of life, including public health, socio-economic endeavors, and human security. If any element of this is affected, it impacts large-scale national and global interest. Seeking to address terrorist networks through technical thinking is like trying to kill a weed by just cutting off its branches. It will re-develop and expand in proportions beyond one’s imagination, even in horrific ways that threaten human security. The continent of Africa has been bedeviled by this menace, with little or no solution to the problem. Nigeria is dealing with a protracted insurgency that is perpetrated by a sect against any form of westernization. Reimagining approaches to dealing with pressing issues like terrorism may require engaging the right set of people in the conversation for any sustainable change. These are people who have lived through the daily effects of the violence that ensues from the activities of terrorist activities. Effective leadership is required for an inclusive process, where spaces are created for diverse voices to be heard, and multiple perspectives are listened to, and not just heard, that supports a determination of the realistic outcome. Addressing insurgency in Nigeria has experienced a lot of disinformation and uncertainty. This may be in part due to poor leadership or an iteration of technical solutions to adaptive challenge peacemaking efforts in Nigeria has focused on behaviors, attitudes and practices that contribute to violence. However, it is important to consider the underlying issues that build-up, ignite and fan the flames of violence—looking at conflict as a complex system, issues like climate change, low employment rates, corruption and the impunity of discrimination due to ethnicity and religion. This article will be looking at an option of the more relational way of addressing insurgency through adaptive approaches that embody engagement and solutions with the people rather than for the people. The construction of a local turn in peacebuilding is informed by the need to create a locally driven and sustained peace process that embodies the culture and practices of the people in enacting an everyday peace beyond just a perennial and universalist outlook. A critical analysis that explores the socially identified individuals and situations will be made, considering the more adaptive approach to a complex existential challenge rather than a universalist frame. Case Study and Ethnographic research approach to understand what other scholars have documented on the matter and also a first-hand understanding of the experiences and viewpoints of the participants.

Keywords: terrorism, adaptive, peace, culture

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1 Poland and the Dawn of the Right to Education and Development: Moving Back in Time

Authors: Magdalena Zabrocka

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The terror of women throughout the governance of the current populist ruling party in Poland, PiS, has been a subject of a heated debate alongside the issues of minorities’ rights, the rule of law, and democracy in the country. The challenges that women and other vulnerable groups are currently facing, however, come down to more than just a lack of comprehensive equality laws, severely limited reproductive rights, hateful slogans, and messages propagated by the central authority and its sympathisers, or a common disregard for women’s fundamental rights. Many sources and media reports are available only in Polish, while international rapporteurs fail to acknowledge the whole picture of the tragedy happening in the country and the variety of factors affecting it. Starting with the authorities’ and Polish catholic church’s propaganda concerning CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence by spreading strategic disinformation that it codifies ‘gender ideology’ and ‘anti-Christian values’ in order to convince the electorate that the legal instruments should be ‘abandoned’. Alongside severely restricted abortion rights, bullying medical professionals helping women exercise their reproductive rights, violating women’s privacy by introducing a mandatory registry of pregnancies (so that one’s pregnancy or its ‘loss’ can be tracked and traced), restricting access to the ‘day after pill’ and real sex education at schools (most schools have a subject of ‘knowledge of living in a family’), introducing prison punishment for teachers accused of spreading ‘sex education’, and many other, the current tyrant government, has now decided to target the youngest with its misinformation and indoctrination, via strategically designed textbooks and curriculum. Biology books have seen a big restriction on the size of the chapters devoted to evolution, reproductive system, and sexual health. Approved religion books (which are taught 2-3 times a week as compared to 1 a week sciences) now cover false information about Darwin’s theory and arguments ‘against it’. Most recently, however, the public spoke up against the absurd messages contained in the politically rewritten history books, where the material about some figures not liked by the governing party has already been manipulated. In the recently approved changes to the history textbook, one can find a variety of strongly biased and politically-charged views representative of the conservatives in the states, most notably, equating the ‘gender ideology’ and feminism with Nazism. Thus, this work, by employing a human rights approach, would focus on the right to education and development as well as the considerate obstacles to access to scientific information by the youth.

Keywords: Poland, right to education, right to development, authoritarianism, access to information

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