IGF 2018 WS #161 INFORMATION DISORDERS: TOWARDS DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP

Subtheme(s): 

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 3: Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 4: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Additional Speakers: 

Liyun Han, Tencent, Asia-Pacific Group

Additional moderator: Virginija Balciunaite, Young European Leadership, Eastern European Group

Information disorders have been rising with the emergence of social media and big data analytics and Artificial Intelligence. Their scope ranges from rumor to propaganda to cyber hybrid threats. They encompass issues of radicalization, hate speech and other forms of intimidation of populations. They potentially present risks for democratic processes and national sovereignty while presenting other societal costs that can undermine trust in the “information society”. Information disorders are varied and they don’t have a single root cause. Some of them have been enabled by the development of social media but this does not exonerate some political actors, and extremist groups in the civil society actors. They have caused disruption in elections and referenda, they have undermined confidence in the news and information sector, they have sought, directly or indirectly, to take control over media images and representations.

No single solution can be applied to help mitigate such risks. Many responses have been proposed and/or applied pro-actively. They aim at stifling threats in the short-term and at increasing long-term resilience of citizens and member states. Most of the responses have been of an non-regulatory nature, with different stakeholders, trying to minimize legal intervention. Others have been of a regulatory nature with interference of public authorities in issues of elections and foreign intervention, raising issues of censorship. While targeting and countering specific information disorders, they need to be formulated to ensure that their design does not bring with them restrictions to civil liberties, ensuring due process and proportionality. To ensure that the responses to information disorders are valid and up-dated, the evolving nature of the problems needs to be monitored. The best responses may be in focusing on new smart initiatives, driven by multi-stakeholder collaborations, that avoid disengagement of the state in policing but minimize regulatory intervention and keep the private sector accountable. Governments, media and social media enterprises as well as individuals have to think and learn how to live in what some call "the post-truth era". Other initiatives involve building on the strength of the networks and the online communities and strengthen digital citizenship via Media and Information literacies and digital debates that try to mitigate the distortions and asymmetries revealed by information disorders.

Format: 

Round Table - 90 Min

Interventions: 

The aim of the workshop is to create a global debate and help move toward prospective solutions to effectively resolve this emerging problem.

First of all, the views, expertise and insights of speakers will be included in the session (benchmark and lessons learned from government, companies and civil society projects). In addition, to scope the issue and assess the responses, we will have an open discussion with participants and feedback from speakers.

Diversity: 

Considering the evolving nature of the issue, the panel aims at gathering views from leading experts and stakeholders groups: we put an emphasis on diversity with speakers from Europe, Asia, LAC and Africa, coming from academia, government, Private sector (in particular the compagny Tencent ), technical community, Civil Society and Inter-governemental Organizations (Council of Europe). Beside official speakers, we have a longer list of interested participants from the different stakehoder groups. We plan to have an active online participation, as diversity is a key factor to tackle information disorders, hence the proposed roundtable format.

PROPOSED FORMAT : roundtable, open-discussion, 90 minutes.

An online preparatory session will be organize to map the complexities of the issue, in order to prepare the report, graphs and visual supports prior to the IGF.

> Opening (10’) Opening remarks by organizers on Issue and perspectives (background and short presentation).

Nadia Tjahja, will present the mapping of the information disorders, following the preparatory session.

> Harnessing information disorders, scoping the issue and assessing the responses: Insights from speakers (30’)

- Scope of the issue (dissemination of rumors and fake news on the internet, governance)? Societal costs? How to minimize costs and vulnerabilities? What platform and media responsibility? Identifying new opportunities and new initiatives? Co-regulation perspectives? What balance of policy actions?

> Relevant questions and Open discussion (45')

- Open discussion with randomly sectioned participants (online and onsite) and roundtable discussion: sustainability, promote an enhance cooperation and innovative governance, empowering citizens through digital citizenship and Media and Information Literacies (participation of the Council of Europe), How are young people skilled (participation of Young European Leadership)?

> Closing remarks: (5’)

- Announcing results of a hackathon of disinformation

- Next steps for improvement

Discussion Facilitation: 

The aim of the workshop if to achieve a real debate amongst participants. The organizing team will keep time and engage participant to ensure the quality of the discussion. The team is composed of experienced moderators used to engaging in public debate with a diverse audience: online, onsite, citizen, experts, governments. Also, the quick introduction aims to pave the way of the discussion by providing key background information (benchmark, policies...).

Online Participation: 

The online participation will be organized as a mirror of the onsite participation, with a dedicated moderator to ensure active participation and engage online participants. • E-opening for remote participants The dedicated moderator will gather feedbacks from remote participants. • E-discussion Online participants will be invited to join the discussion during key moments. Each group moderator will facilitate discussion. The remote audience will try answering the same question as the onsite participants. Online participants will also be invited to directly participate to a cases study, through a digital platform (link provided at the beginning of the session by the organizing team). • E-conclusion Online participants will join onsite participants to present results and proposed next steps.

Report: 

Chairs:

  • Divina FRAU-MEIGS, Savoir*Devenir
  • Lucien M. CASTEX, Internet Society France

Panelists:

  • Speaker 1: Rasmus Nielsen, Western European and Others Group (WEOG), University of Oxford
  • Speaker 2: Paula Forteza, French Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG), Deputée
  • Speaker 3: Denis Teyssou, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG), Agence France Presse AFP
  • Speaker 4: Jean-Baptiste Piacentino, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG), QWANT
  • Speaker 5: Emmanuel ADJOVI, Intergovernmental Organization, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), Organisation internationale de la Francophonie
  • Speaker 6: Ahmet Murat Kilic, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization, Council of Europe

 

Information disorders have been rising with the emergence of social media and big data analytics and Artificial Intelligence. Their scope ranges from rumor to propaganda to cyber hybrid threats. They encompass issues of radicalization, hate speech and other forms of intimidation of populations. They potentially present risks for democratic processes and national sovereignty while presenting other societal costs that can undermine trust in the “information society”. Information disorders are varied and they don’t have a single root cause. Some of them have been enabled by the development of social media but this does not exonerate some political actors, and extremist groups in the civil society actors. They have caused disruption in elections and referenda, they have undermined confidence in the news and information sector, they have sought, directly or indirectly, to take control over media images and representations.

The organizers intention of this workshop was to create a dialogue with the panel of experts and to favor the participation of the audience focusing on solutions enacted and proposals to address the information disorders.

There was consensus that the issues for the multiple information disorders are diverse and need to be put into context in order to tailor responses:

  • Social networks have a lot of responsibility as platforms. These same tools that are used for positive social movements and exchange of ideas, have also proven susceptible to manipulation and massive disinformation.
  • There were also questions about if GAFA’s monopolistic powers, lack of transparency, and freedom from accountability as an impediment to solving these problems.
  • Economic incentives created in an ad-based internet environment was also acknowledged as a problem.
  • Images and videos are becoming more and more important for spreading disinformation as increasingly sophisticated image manipulation tools are being developed with the help of artificial intelligence. These are harder to track than word-based articles and can provoke a stronger emotional response.
  • A crisis in confidence of authority within countries allows fake news to be more effective. Research has shown that in countries where confidence in public institutions is higher, disinformation campaigns are far less accepted by the population.

There was a lot of a discussion about what solutions were most effective:

  • Self-regulation
    • One form of self-regulation is by the user themselves who can seek out alternative platforms. Choosing alternative search engines can be a key solution for individuals making sure that their searches are not tailored to their preferences.
    • Increased transparency from social networks so that researchers can see the full scope of the issue.
    • Increased funding (both public and private) to help researchers and media professional both analyze issues and develop tools for fact-checking as well as MIL actions.
  • Governmental regulation
    • Discussion of a diversity of laws passed in various countries to regulate the situation. While there was debate still on which governments regulations were most effective, there was a call for these laws to respect fundamental human rights and to be flexible to meet the ever-changing technological tools used to spread disinformation.
  • Co-regulation (multi-stakeholder)
    • A multi-stakeholder dialogue is essential to tackle the issue and come to grips with it: dynamically monitor and identify emerging issues, building solutions…
  • Continued multi-stakeholder dialogues should not be used as an excuse for inaction but to monitor progress and find solutions through this soft-power approach.
  • The promotion of Media and Information Literacy programs was a common theme by the panel and audience. There were repeated calls for governmental and civil society to promote these programs. There was also an acknowledgement that it was not the single solution but one of many.

Perspective for the future:

After two years of information disorders being a prominent global issue and inspiring many multi-stakeholder discussions, this workshop highlighted the array of experimentation and ideas being enacted or proposed on multiple levels of society. As the breakdown of the information society has multiple causes, it is important to continue to take the time to analyze the context at every level and for governments, civil society and international organizations to create agile policy that can adapt to future technologies. The consensus called for an increased funding for media and information literacy programs, dedicated academic research as well as support for journalists and fact-checkers. These issues are far from being resolved and there is a need for future conversations and actions in the coming years.

 

 

Session Time: 
Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 - 16:40 to 18:10
Room: 
Salle XII

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678