Detox de Datos Latinx — Campaigning with Characters in Latin America & the Caribbean

by Daisy Kidd

Detox de Datos Latinx is a social media campaign and project that aims to provide a platform for young people in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to educate their peers about data and technology. Led by JAAKLAC Iniciativa, youth representatives from Causas Digitales, and in collaboration with young designers, schools, youth groups and other organisations in the region, this campaign reconceptualised Tactical Tech’s Data Detox x Youth into a social media campaign for youth in the region.

Through weekly meetings and workshops, the campaign team and the creative team worked together to think about how the Data Detox x Youth — an interactive workbook to educate young people of high school age about Online Privacy, Digital Security, Digital Wellbeing and Misinformation — could be adapted for young people in the region, asking questions such as: How can digital formats be used as a way to reach young people online? How can a social media campaign be culturally relevant? And how can these topics reach the broader Latinx community?

Developing the campaign

The group began by selecting the main tips from the Data Detox x Youth privacy section and adapting the format to be shared as an Instagram carousel. In the second version, the group discussed the possibility of making the visuals and language more appealing to the audience group with brighter colours and common expressions from Latin American Spanish language.

The first creative idea for the campaign

The character illustrations that were used in this second version sparked interest in the young participants, who then decided to develop the idea of characterisation further by coming up with their own characters and stories, answering questions such as: what is your character’s background, interests, and how do they relate to the Data Detox?

The resulting characters for Detox de Datos Latinx were Matias, Anto, Berta and Iktan. These characters were based on the young participants’ own experiences and interests and through the characters, they were able to put some of themselves into the campaign.

One of the young representatives from Causas Digitales, David Aragort, came up with the character Anto, a Venezuelan girl who wants to improve the social and political reality in her country.

“With my character I tried to make visible different situations of injustice that are experienced in my country, but that are also common in other countries in the region, such as homophobia, repression and persecution for political reasons carried out through state security agencies. In addition, I wanted to create a character that captures the essence of the youth of my country, which aims to transform our social reality by getting involved in public affairs and promoting inclusion and respect for those who think differently.”

A young participant from Mexico, Azeneth Guadalupe García Méndez, helped to develop the character of Iktan, who teaches people misinformation martial arts. Iktan is a Mexican boy who wants to be a scientist but worries about the amount of fake news circulating on the internet.

“Developing Iktan was a very fun process that took us through different paths, but something that was always clear was that we wanted to show Mexican culture. Iktan is the result of the context of those of us involved in his creation, because like him, we also enjoy hanging out with our friends and sharing part of our lives on social networks. He not only represents the Latin American youth, but also an aspiring scientific community, which seeks to combat misinformation today, because with the crises we are experiencing and among the seas of information and data on the Internet, it is easier to fall into misinformation.”

The junior designer Agustina Nunes, from WILD FI, worked with these characters to come up with the social media campaign materials, which were launched mid-April, with each character taking a different day of the campaign and focusing on a different topic from the Data Detox x Youth: Digital Privacy, Digital Security, Digital Wellbeing and Digital Misinformation. The messages encouraged the audience to stay tuned for each character’s stories and recommendations and to share their own tips.

During the campaign, the youth group who developed the characters administered the JAAKLAC and Causas Digitales social media accounts. This was aimed at enabling different formats of participation through the project and including a diversity of voices in the campaign’s communications. Although the text publications were edited for coherence, these were mostly authored by the participating youth. It was agreed that the Spanish language used should resemble one of each character’s nationalities.

The day dedicated to digital security, and the character of Anto, David decided to make her interact with the Empower Rangers, a group of characters created by Redes Ayuda. This allowed them to communicate about human rights and digital security issues in a humorous tone more appealing to an audience that is not necessarily as familiar with and interested in these issues. Both characters interacted through the JAAKLAC Twitter account.

“I was very interested (in the project) because I realized that in my environment we almost don’t have a culture of privacy and security in the digital environment, that’s why this project was important to me; besides it would give me the opportunity to learn and share ideas with different people from Latin America, joining efforts to show some recommendations that can make the internet a safer and healthier place for our interaction.” (Azeneth Guadalupe García Méndez — Mexico)

What’s next?

The overall feedback about the project’s activities and campaign was highly positive. Participants valued the “good vibe environment”, “fluid conversations” and “collaborations amongst everyone”. In terms of the campaign itself, the use of characters was identified as a highlight. As participants argued, this approach allowed “people to identify with them (the characters) by having very Latin American stories” while connecting these to the Data Detox Kit.

The group agreed on the opportunities to develop the current storylines and new characters. They are hoping to narrow down on the characteristics of specific segments (LGBTQ+, environmentalists, scientists) and elaborate novel ones, such as for the BLM movement and indigenous rights activists. For this purpose, special workshops could be designed for youth and organisations to create Data Detox characters tailoring the stories, language and recommendations to its own communities/audiences.

“I think a next step in the project could be to aim for a more audiovisual content with which people can interact more actively. For example, creating an app in which people can create their own character, share their story and also learn about the stories of others.”

(David Aragort — Venezuela)

If you are interested in participating in the project’s future activities please send us a message to jallalla@jaaklac.org

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JAAKLAC is an initiative that aims to increase critical digital education among Latin American and Caribbean communities, especially among young people in these regions. For this project JAAKLAC coordinated with Azeneth and Luatany from Causas Digitales. Together they convened the campaign’s “creation team” consisting of other young people, CSO and the creative agency WILD FI which representatives participated in weekly instances between March and April.

Read more about the campaign here.

Tactical Tech is an international NGO that engages with citizens and civil-society organisations to explore and mitigate the impacts of technology on society.