IGF 2018 WS #328 Game Out The Vote: Mapping Algorithmic Amplification

Subtheme(s): 

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

This panel will assess the role and impact of algorithmic amplification on electoral processes, and point to different policy solutions to make sure that democratic elections remain a possibility in the age of hyper-personalized social media.

Format: 

Panel - 90 Min

Interventions: 

Each speaker carries a unique expertise that will elucidate one aspect of the discussion and will present an original piece of research at the beginning of each step of the discussion. They have all been contacted, confirmed their interest in participating in this session, and validated the approach.

Diversity: 

Speakers in this session reflect both geographical, gender and disciplinary diversity.

Framing

Elections are a core element of any functioning democracy. Electoral processes need to be organized, managed and regulated to ensure that they genuinely express the will of the people. This panel will not look at whether “fake news” have any impact on elections. Instead, it will look at the architecture of social media upon which fake news is circulated, and try to assess the role of this specific architecture on electoral processes. One key difference between social media and traditional media (print or broadcast) is the phenomenon of algorithmic amplification, by which a specific piece of information acquires importance in the digital public sphere without editors’ intervention. During this panel, we will focus on this key difference, and try to elucidate its impact on the democratic conduct of elections.

Agenda

First Step: Telling. We will first explore the notion of algorithmic amplification through concrete case studies from diverse countries around the world.
Second Step: Mapping. We will then explain methods to mapping and visualizing this phenomenon.
Third Step: Understanding. Relying on the case studies and the maps shown, we will discuss the impact, if any, of algorithmic amplification on elections.

Policy Issues

This panel will seek to provide answers to the following questions: how do we ensure fair access to social media from a diversity of candidates? What can digital platforms do to ensure their neutrality in electoral processes? How can civil society engineer a democratic digital public sphere where online debates contribute positively to such participatory processes?

Discussion Facilitation: 

The discussion will include 3 steps: telling, mapping and understanding. At the beginning of each step, one speaker will present a research finding which will trigger a discussion first between speakers and then with onsite and online audience participants. In this format, audience participation is actively encouraged at each of the 3 steps of the discussion, and closely managed for time by the discussion facilitator.

Online Participation: 

Online participation will be actively sought at each of the 3 steps of the discussion, and the onsite and online moderator will interact throughout the panel to ensure equal participation in the audience onsite and online.

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