IGF 2019 WS #268 Coping in an era of misinformation:Who is Responsible?

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Organizer 2: Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Organizer 3: Intergovernmental Organization, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 1: Anju Mangal, Intergovernmental Organization, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Babu Ram Aryal, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Mamadou LO, Private Sector, African Group
Speaker 4: Angélica C, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 5: Walid Al-Saqaf, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

1. Is the current challenge of misinformation, its manifestation and affects, including reaction to misinformation similar in different nations, regions?

2. Are the initiatives (policy, technical, capacity building, others) taken so far by different stakeholders, especially the intermediaries and governments to curb spread of misinformation globally, regionally and within nations adequate?

3. Is it possible to moderate content through policies, while ensuring freedom of expression and privacy of users? Are there any best practices and approaches which may be adopted to counter misinformation being spread through messaging platforms and social media?

4. Is there any role of the multistakeholder process, other than Governments and intermediaries in the arena of content regulation?

Relevance to Theme: Various research done by organisations including the Internet Society, point that most internet users are losing their trust on the Internet. Misinformation, fake news, hate speech, issues of data privacy of users, the role of intermediaries are some of the greatest contributors to this dwindling trust deficit.
The BOF is aimed at discussing the issue of misinformation and its impact on nations and individuals, discussing the steps being taken as countermeasures so far; looking past the problems of misinformation in this digital age to coming up with ideas and solutions to counter the issue. The session also seeks to give participants an opportunity to share and explore their current concerns, discuss adequacy of the regulations being introduced by governments, steps taken by intermediaries and to think of new models and solutions that will help us create new ways of sharing information that is authentic and does not cause widespread harm to people in the future and helps building back the trust and accountability.

Key issues to be discussed:

1. The current challenge of misinformation, its manifestation and affects in different nations. The areas of convergence and divergence between nations in terms of the type of misinformation being circulated, the reaction to such misinformation and its effects.

2. Adequacy of the initiatives taken so far by different stakeholders especially the intermediaries, regulations introduced by governments to curb spread of misinformation globally and within nations. What more needs to be done.

3. Deliberate on Best practices and approaches which may be adopted to counter misinformation being spread through messaging platforms and social media; possible areas of regional cooperation.

4. Deliberate on the role of the multistakeholder process other than Governments and intermediaries in the arena of content regulation.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The Internet has ushered in new modes of communication and instant sharing of news. The compulsion of people to be up to date with news each minute has accelerated a surge in the spread of misinformation or ‘fake news'.The elections of the US and Brazil have highlighted challenges in the flow of information. Creators of ‘misinformation’ are using the internet to operate, disseminate and influence communities, leading to even loss of lives. In India there have been incidents of mob lynching and killing of people based on false news.

Misinformation, fake news or disinformation has become a much discussed internet governance topic across the world, leading to discussions on intermediary liability, content regulation, role of governments etc.

Presently to mitigate the effects of misinformation, social media and messaging platforms have initiated several steps. Various governments across the globe such as EU, India, Nepal, Indonesia, New Zealand to name a few are drafting or contemplating new regulations for intermediaries to curb misinformation, that have raised concerns on the openness of the internet and freedom of speech.

Through the proposed BOF session we seek to understand whether the initiatives taken so far are adequate, while highlighting successful initiatives or what more needs to be done. Stakeholders from Asia: India, Nepal, Pacific Island, Europe, Latin America and Africa, would be invited to share the ongoing initiatives being taken by their governments, business and stakeholders to combat with the issue of misinformation; identify the best practices and then discuss if they can be replicated elsewhere to rebuild the trust over internet. The participants would also be discussing the role of the multistakeholder process other than Governments and intermediaries in the arena of content regulation.

Format: 

Birds of a Feather - Auditorium - 60 Min

Description: Technology, especially the Internet has dramatically revolutionized many facets of our lives, both social and economic. It has not only driven innovation by ushering in new products and service, but also improved productivity in almost all economic sectors. For an average citizen, the internet has facilitated easier communication, enabled better engagement opportunities and helped in empowering them, it has democratised access to information, streamlined government service delivery and opened new markets for Indian businesses.

Social media and messaging platforms, which are widely used by people across the globe as a new mode of communication, owing to their ability to enable rapid and extensive exchange of information is a double edged sword. While social media and messaging platforms have helped civil society to mobilize people for a cause, there are also concerns alleging the disproportionate role of such platforms in influencing elections, including spreading false news, hate speech, religious, political and social misinformation. In fact, there have been reports of mob lynching and killing of people based on false news and such incidents have not only raised the alarm bells for law enforcement agencies, Government, but also civil societies and other stakeholder communities, thereby leading to a trust deficit online.

The proposed BOF will be an interactive session. During the discussion we aim to outline the major trends, initiatives taken so far by the online platforms, governments and other grass root communities and discuss on the best practices that can be adopted by different stakeholders to combat the challenge of misinformation. Participants will be encouraged to share their concerns on the adequacy of the initiatives taken by different stakeholders and propose new models and solutions that will help enable sharing of information responsibly and rebuild trust of people on the internet.

Draft Agenda

1. Introduction to the subject by the moderator: 5 mins
2. Speakers share their country perspective: 20 mins
-Current challenges
-Adequacy of initiatives adopted
-Best practices observed and lessons learnt
-What more needs to be done
3. Open community discussion: 20 min
4. Summarizing the session and way ahead 5 mins

Expected Outcomes: At the end of the session we expect participants to get an insight on the,
• Existing challenges of misinformation and its manifestation in different regions
o Identify the common challenges across Global nations
o Emphasize the unique regional or national challenges if any.
• Best practices adopted by certain Intermediaries, nations or regions to overcome the challenges
• Areas which need reforms along with suggestions;
o Policy related to, improving content regulation and intermediary liabilities
o Engagement of other stakeholders
o Capacility Building initiatives
o Others

The participants of the session would subsequently be shared a summary report detailing the issues, best practices identified and recommendations based on the discussion for curbing misinformation and building trust back on the internet.

Discussion Facilitation: 

To ensure the discussions are not tilted towards a particular economy, region or stakeholder, we will attempt to ensure the participation of all speakers are equally encouraged. We would also attempt to invite youth IGF representatives, local IGF participants into the discussion, besides community members from nations to attend and shared their perspectives.
The Moderator will be inviting comments and raising additional challenges for participants to respond and share their experience. We will strongly focus into including online participants equally in the discussion.
At the end of the session, we are looking into providing session’s messages and conclusions for greater participation and understanding of the various aspects of the topic discussed.

Online Participation: 

Interested community members from across the globe, who cannot be in Berlin in person would be encouraged to participate in the discussion remotely. Prior to the IGF we would be holding a series of discussions on the topic to gather more perspective of people and also in turn to encourage them especially the youth to participate remotely.
They would be informed through the various mailing groups, WhatsApp groups, social media groups about the event and the IGF remote participation links and process to connect.

Proposed Additional Tools: This workshop will rely on IGF support for remote participation and will also experiment with a variety of tools to bring in multiple views for the debate previously, during and after the presentation. Interactive document-building, intensive use of conversation in instantaneous social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp or Weibo can be completed by warm-up sessions to the workshop with short video messages and notes.

SDGs: 

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions