IGF 2019 WS #152 Building Societal Resilience against Misinformation

Organizer 1: Paus Inger, Vodafone Institute for Society and Communication
Organizer 2: Lisa-Maria Neudert Neudert, University of Oxford
Organizer 3: Lars Thies, Vodafone Germany Foundation

Speaker 1: Fabro Steibel, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Lee Jennifer 8., Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

Worldwide there have been regulatory efforts to counter misinformation such as the 2017 Network Enforcement Act in Germany, the 2018 law against the manipulation of information in France, or the 2018 European Action Plan against disinformation. However, regulation faces at least three difficulties: 1. the danger of harming free speech and the free exchange of information online 2. the speed of technological development which makes it hard for regulation to keep up with and 3. the growing amount of misinformation distributed via encrypted messengers like WhatsApp and Telegram or fringe platforms such as Discord and Gab.ai, which are harder to regulate. Given these difficulties, it is increasingly important to complement regulation with broader efforts to empower citizens to use online information sources in a competent way and to foster societal resilience. The workshop will address the following policy questions:

Credibility indicators: How can we develop and implement more effective signaling mechanisms regarding the credibility of information online? What technological solutions do we need? What role is there for governments, technology companies, science, civil society and media?

Transparency: Which data do empowered users need from platforms to navigate modern information ecosystems? What kind of additional data sources should be available to ease the work of fact-checkers and to enable individuals to verify claims?

Digital and information literacy: What are the specific competencies citizens need to be able to identify false or misleading information online? How can these competencies be developed at scale on an individual (citizen) and organizational (civic society) level? What is the role for governments, technology companies, science, civil society and media?

Relevance to Theme: The increasing spread of misinformation has undermined trust in the internet as a foundation for the democratic, societal and economic participation of all citizens in a substantial way on a global scale. This workshop contributes to the topics of safety and resilience of internet users. Its goal is to identify key strategies to build up the capacity of citizens to distinguish between credible information and misinformation online. The workshop also takes into account the importance of a multidisciplinary perspective and stakeholder collaboration for responding to the growing threats to the global internet and its users. We see building societal resilience towards misinformation as a broad and long-term effort, which needs to engage governments, technology companies, academia and civil society, all of which are expected to present their views and contribute to the results of the workshop.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The question of how to build up societal resilience addresses the balance between freedom of expression on the internet and regulation to shield democratic systems from the negative effects of misinformation. A specific aim of the workshop is to identify rules, norms and mechanisms with the purpose of supporting citizens in their capacity to assess the credibility of online information. Thereby complementing public policy actions such as the action plan on disinformation by the European Union or the German Network Enforcement Act). Furthermore, the different roles and responsibilities of government, civil society and the private sector for building societal resilience to misinformation will be a focus of the workshop.

Format: 

Break-out Group Discussions - Flexible Seating - 90 Min

Description: The organizers believe that strengthening societal resilience and empowering the individual to assess the credibility of information online is necessary to guide regulatory responses to misinformation. The workshop at the IGF will be following a multidisciplinary roundtable hosted by the Oxford Internet Institute and the Vodafone Germany Foundation in Berlin in March 2019. The roundtable generated several preliminary ideas for building resilience towards misinformation with a focus on the European Union. With the workshop at the IGF we would like to continue the discussion with a wider range of stakeholders and with a more international perspective.

Preliminary Workshop Agenda:

Setting the Scene: why focus on societal resilience with regard to misinformation?
Input by Lisa-Maria Neudert, Oxford Internet Institute (20 min.)

Breakout Sessions (40 min)
1. Credibility indicators
- Input by Jennifer 8. Lee, Credibility Coalition (10 min): What are current examples and technological possibilities?
- Discussion: What is needed in addition?
- Discussion: What can Governments, Civil Society, Academia and the private sector do to develop more/better credibility indicators?

2. Transparency
Input by Fabro Steibel, ITS Rio (10 min): Recent developments in platform transparency
- Discussion: What kind of context information should be available on platforms and in what way/format to be accessible for the individual user?
- Discussion: What kind of additional data sources are needed to support the work of fact checkers and to enable individuals to verify claims?

3. Digital and information literacy
Input by Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck, lie-detectors (10 min): What are basic competencies to assess the credibility of online-information?
- Discussion: How can these competencies be developed in the citizenry at scale?
- Discussion: What role is there for governments, civil society, education and the media?

Presenting the results of the breakout sessions (30 min)
Each group will have 5 minutes to present their results and 5 minutes to answer questions.

Each breakout group will be moderated by a member of the organizing team or one of the speakers. The results of the discussion should be visualized (whiteboard, sticky notes etc.). The members of the breakout sessions should choose a rapporteur amongst themselves to present the results of the discussion in the plenary.

Expected Outcomes: The purpose of the workshop is to generate ideas on societal resilience towards misinformation from great variety of stakeholders and geographical representations. These ideas can address the three policy questions addressed by the workshop but are not limited to them. We expect concrete outcomes of the workshop on two levels:
- Building blocks for a strategy to build up societal resilience towards misinformation
- Identifying and connecting Individuals and organizations who are willing to further develop recommendations and policy proposals.

We will summarize the outcomes of the workshop in a working paper and distribute a draft of the paper to the participants for comments before publishing it. Furthermore, the organizers plan to continue the dialogue on societal resilience towards misinformation with civil society organizations and other stakeholders with the aim of publishing concrete recommendations and policy proposals.

We aim to collaborate with other workshop organizers in the same field to ensure that our session is complementary and to drive collaboration in this space beyond the IGF.

Onsite Moderator: 

Paus Inger, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator: 

Lars Thies, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Rapporteur: 

Lars Thies, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

A principal aim of the workshop is to generate an open discussion and to assemble as much input from diverse perspectives on societal resilience towards misinformation as possible. The format of the breakout sessions was chosen to facilitate parallel discussions and to enable individuals to present their views and ideas in a smaller group setting.

Online Participation: 

The moderator for the workshop as well as the moderators for the three breakout sessions will feed points made or questions asked within the online participation tool into the discussion.

SDGs: 

GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals