SummaryIn the present report, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression examines the threats posed by disinformation to human rights, democratic institutions and development processes. While acknowledging the complexities and challenges posed by disinformation in the digital age, the Special Rapporteur finds that the responses by States and companies have been problematic, inadequate and detrimental to human rights. She calls for multidimensional and multi-stakeholder responses that are well grounded in the international human rights framework and urges companies to review their business model and States to recalibrate their responses to disinformation, enhancing the role of free, independent and diverse media, investing in media and digital literacy, empowering individuals and rebuilding public trust.
Search engines transformed the first decade of the millennium. Recommendation engines revolutionized the second decade. Neither in their current form are sufficient for addressing misinformation. They focus on discovery and primarily rely on relevance. But they are not particularly helpful at many other important information tasks, particularly contextualization.We need better tools to help people quickly contextualize media that they come across online. This is especially important for supporting busy everyday people needing to rapidly make sense of the misinformation-laden text, images, and videos shared in group chats and online platforms.
The paper comprises three chapters. First, it discusses what fake news is, distinguishing it from other variations of misinformation and refuting common assumptions surrounding it; second, it unpacks the state of fake news in the Arab world during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically until August 2020; third, it names the most important methods used in the region to confront this news, discussing their effectiveness and shortcomings. Finally, the paper puts forward recommendations to prevent and combat the regional spread of misleading news.
In June 2020, the Forum on Information and Democracy launched its inaugural working group. The Forum asks experts, academics and jurists all over the world to define a policy framework (set of recommendations) to respond to the infodemics through four structural challenges.
To evolve from content regulation to meta regulation (regulation of the corporate actors that dictate the moderation rules), we need to develop a set of principles that platforms and social media will have to accept, in accordance with international standards of freedom of opinion and expression.
The pandemic has demonstrated the need to reverse the amplification of sensational content and rumour by promoting reliable news and information in a structural manner. Based on established criteria, mechanisms and policies to promote the authenticity, reliability and findability of content are to be determined.
The virality of fake news shared on messaging apps is reinforced by the use of groups that sometimes have thousands of members. It is important to define minimal rules for messaging apps that exploit the possibilities of the online public domain while complying with international standards on freedom of opinion and expression.
Access to the qualitative and quantitative data of the leading digital platforms and access to their algorithms is a prerequisite for evaluating them. Transparency requirements must therefore be imposed on the platforms in order to be able to determine whether they are respecting their responsibilities in the aforementioned areas and, in general, with regard to their business models and algorithmic choices.
As false or manipulated information continues to proliferate online during the Covid-19 epidemic, the Forum on Information and Democracy is publishing a report entitled How to end infodemics. Based on more than 100 contributions from international experts, it offers 250 recommendations on how to rein in a phenomenon that threatens democracies and human rights, including the right to health.Launched in 2019 by 11 non-governmental organizations and research centres, the Forum on Information and Democracy created a working group on infodemics in June to devise a “regulatory framework” to respond to the information chaos on online platforms and social media. After five months of work, this group, whose steering committee is co-chaired by Maria Ressa and Marietje Schaake, is publishing a detailed report with 250 recommendations for governments and digital platforms.