IGF 2020 WS #97 Fact-Checking: A Realm for Multi-stakeholder model?

Time
Tuesday, 10th November, 2020 (08:40 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th November, 2020 (10:10 UTC)
Room
Room 3
About this Session
The workshop relates to the rising amount of false information spread online and explores fact-checking mechanisms used by various stakeholders in order to minimise the spread of misinformation. It aims to raise a discussion about the responsibilities held and issues encountered by different stakeholders in the current fact-checking environment, proposes and brings to the discussion the development of a global benchmark of best practices for fact-checking.
Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Man Hei Siu, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Organizer 2: Martha Mai Hatch , City University of Hong Kong
Organizer 3: Leonie Kellerhof, London School of Economics
Organizer 4: Nuwan Sriyantha Bandara, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
Organizer 5: Ibni Inggrianti, Institut Teknologi Bandung

Speaker 1: Charles Mok, Government, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Alice Echtermann, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Obed Sindy, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: BIRARDA CARINA, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 5: Jens Kaessner, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Moderator

Man Hei Siu, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Martha Mai Hatch , Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Rapporteur

Leonie Kellerhof, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Format

Round Table - Circle - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What are the implications of recent institutional regulations on false information?

2. What are some of the dilemmas of existing methodology used in combating false information?

3. What stakeholders are responsible for checking the credibility of fact-checkers and how can their reliability be ensured?

4. Is it possible to borrow or to expand on existing models such as the multistakeholder model in order to improve the fact-checking process?

5. What are the key concepts for establishing trust and how can it be implemented fact-checking?

The spread of misinformation has been accelerated along with the increasingly accessible Internet and relevant technologies. The spread of misinformation is fueled by various motifs, ranging from a simple prank to being a weaponized tool for political gain. Its information is found to have significant impacts on global socio-political stability, making it one of the biggest complications as the world transmutes into digital enlightenment. This can be clearly seen in the recent upheaval of misinformation in relation to COVID-19, which caused direct repercussions with serious consequences. As a result, stakeholders from different interest backgrounds have been developing various fact-checking strategies to tackle the fast-growing digital “epidemic”.

However, some of these fact-checking strategies itself embed assorted complications. Hence, the goal of this proposed workshop is to discuss the issues with the current fact-checking mechanisms conducted by different stakeholders, and whether a global benchmark of best practices for fact-checking could be established in revamping the loopholes within these mechanisms.

SDGs

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Introduction

The workshop relates the rising amount of false information spread online to a decline of internet users’ trust in the network and explores fact-checking mechanisms used by various stakeholders in order to minimise the spread of misinformation. Hence, it aims to raise a discussion about the responsibilities held and issues encountered by different stakeholders in the current fact-checking environment. It proposes and brings to the discussion the development of a global benchmark of best practices for fact-checking.

Round Table Discussion One

The moderator(s) will then invite speakers from different stakeholder groups to share their views on the significance of misinformation and the importance of fact-checking in addressing misinformation. The guest speakers are encouraged to use recent examples to illustrate the different stakeholders at work in addressing misinformation. Illustration of misinformation in relation to COVID-19 is encouraged as it is relevant and relatable to all members of the public and private sector. The speakers are recommended to start the discussion by addressing the misinformation and the methodologies they have adopted to tackle the problem. The moderator would then open the floor for both the audience and the panel in discussing what are some of the dilemmas seen with the existing fact-checking strategies used by these stakeholders in addressing misinformation. The moderator(s) will summarize the key points of the round table discussion discussed by both the panel speakers and the attended.

Round Table Discussion Two

In this round table discussion, the focus will be shifted towards a dialogue on potential incorporation of multi-stakeholder models or other methodologies into the fact-checking operation, thereby as a way of improving the current system by reinforcing trust. The moderator will start by linking the issues of fact-checking discussed previously to the guiding question of How do we ensure the reliability of the fact-checkers? What are the key and universal principles for establishing trust? The moderator(s) then invites the panel speakers to discuss the potential reason behind the dilemmas of the existing fact-checking mechanisms. After the sharing of the speakers, the moderator(s) would then raise the question on whether it is possible to establish a global benchmark of best practices of fact-checking and whether the existing methodologies or models from other areas could be used as an example of a universal benchmark. The floor will be open to all to discuss with the panel in discussing the possibility of such development.

Session Summary

The workshop will end with the moderator(s) inviting the panel speakers to give their final thoughts and summary of the workshop and the outcomes. The floor will also be open for the public to engage in further questioning.

Expected Outcomes

Throughout the session, the key principles for trust will be discussed and established as a means to help shape any future policies or systems. The fundamentals in evaluating misinformation, key stakeholders in addressing misinformation and in ensuring the reliability of fact-checking operations, and ongoing problems in existing fact-checking methodologies would also be identified.

The possible development of a global benchmark of best-for fact-checking would be proposed and discussed, such that these possibilities could be taken into consideration for different stakeholders in the fact-checking ecosystem to achieve a justified, transparent, balanced, and safe fact-checking operation.

After the workshop, a survey will be taken and polling results will be produced, as a means supplementing our final report using audience contributions regarding the policy questions. A report on the results and findings from the workshop will also be produced.

We will be facilitating interaction between speakers and the audiences in four main ways: (1) Speaker-to-speaker discussion The moderator will be starting the conversation by asking the guiding questions, the panel speakers are encouraged to contribute. The moderator will observe and balance the speaking time between the speakers through intervention. (E.g: The moderator will intervene in an appropriate manner when a speaker has spoken over proportionate and invite a speaker who has spoken less to provide more supplementation) (2) Speaker and audience discussion In the first part of the round table discussion, the moderator will open the floor to both the audience and the speakers to discuss the question posed by the moderator. The question is designed to be relatable to most general topic’s daily experience to encourage participation and understanding of the topic. (3) Q&A There will be a Q&A session after the second round table discussion. The audience is encouraged and given the chance to ask any question in relation to the topic. (4) Survey The survey will be conducted through Google Forms. Interaction is encouraged in order to supplement our final report using audience contributions regarding the policy questions. 

Relevance to Internet Governance:

Misinformation has become one of the biggest risks exacerbated by the growth of the Internet, especially with its ability to spread information across mass reach within milli-seconds. As stated by the IGF “The IGF facilitates a common understanding of how to maximize Internet opportunities and address risks and challenges that arise.”, misinformation thus becomes a crucial topic to be discussed within the Internet governance context. The responsibility of the management of the spread of misinformation lies collectively between governments, private and public sectors. With misinformation disrupting global peace and stability, it is an essential topic to be addressed at the Internet Governance Forum.

Relevance to Theme:

This workshop directly addresses one of the main themes of IGF2020 – Trust. Misinformation is inevitable in the online world with the freedom of speech and miscommunication through different channels. Various research has been done on false information and fact-checking, suggesting how internet users are losing trust towards the Internet with the rise of false information, and that current fact-checking mechanisms may be unsuccessful due to the shortcomings in different stakeholders, thus this creates an endless cycle in this withering trust deficit. The session aims at discussing the stakeholders, dilemmas and existing problems within current fact-checking mechanisms, which is crucial as a step towards shaping a dependable fact-checking ecosystem, as well as recognising stakeholders obligation in keeping Internet users safe from misbelieving in false information and minimising the spread of misinformation. From addressing current methodologies, this leads up to the discussion on the potential development of a global benchmark of best practices of fact-checking based on the multistakeholder model and other methodologies from multiple disciplines. Hence, a fair, inclusive and transparent fact-checking process could be established, allowing the trustworthiness of fact-checkers and fact-checking systems to be ensured.

The session also seeks to give both onsite and remote participants the opportunity to share and explore their concerns and suggestions towards new models and solutions in relation to existing fact-checking mechanisms and their corresponding improvements, potentially a universally agreed on and trusted system. As stated by the IGF, “Trust in the online world is a prerequisite for the Internet to develop its potential as a tool for empowerment, a channel of free speech and an engine of economic development.”. In this context of misinformation and fact-checking, it is crucial for trust to relate to the dependability, transparency and resilience of the entire fact-checking operation, together with the concern for people’s safety from misinformation, so as to achieve a peaceful and inclusive environment, along with preventing the entire society from plummeting into chaos due to false information online.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool.

Additional Tools proposed: Google Forms will be used for conducting surveys among participants, such that their feedback and suggestions on the topics discussed and the workshop could be collected to produce reports and improve in future proposed workshops.

Agenda

1.   Introduction​  (5 mins):  
Our moderators will start this session with an introduction of different speakers and elaboration on the agenda and background of the workshop. 
 
2.   Speaker sharing​  (40 mins) : 

The guest speakers will begin by sharing their perspectives on the topic of false information and fact-checking through the lens of their expertise. These could include introductory concepts on false information and fact-checking, the ways false information is conventionally determined, and the current adopted forms of fact-checking. This will initiate the discussion and will give participants the necessary background to refer to in discussing the prevailing issues on the present system of fact-checking. 
 
3.   Round Table Discussion I​  (15 mins): 

This is a primary discussion which aims to accentuate the stakeholders in the structure of digital fact-checking and the consequences of the existing mode of regulation.  
Guiding questions:  
-    What are the implications of recent institutional regulations on false information?  
-    What are some of the dilemmas of the existing methodology used in combating false information?  
Summarization of Round Table Discussion I: 
The moderators will summarize the key points of the previous discussion and guide the conclusion of the summary towards the issues of privatized fact-checking infrastructure, so as to inspire further discussion on potential solutions in addressing the above concerns. 
 
4.   Round Table Discussion II​  (15 mins):  

In this round table discussion, the focus will be shifted towards a dialogue on potential incorporation by borrowing or expanding existing models such as the multi-stakeholder model into the fact-checking operation, thereby as a way of improving the current system by reinforcing trust. 
Guiding questions:  
-    What stakeholders are responsible for checking the credibility of fact-checkers and how can their reliability be ensured?  
-    Is it possible to borrow or to expand on existing models such as the multistakeholder model in order to improve the fact-checking process?  
-    What are the key concepts for establishing trust and how can it be implemented fact-checking? 
Summarization of Round Table Discussion II:  
The moderators will summarize the key takeaways of the discussion and guide the conclusion of the summary towards the way existing models could be adopted and expanded in the fact-checking process through establishing trust. 
 
5.   Open-floor Q&A​  (10 mins): 

We will open up the floor for the participants to comment and ask questions. Our online moderators will facilitate this session and may ask follow-up questions to encourage participants to interact. 
 
6.   Conclusion​  (5 mins):  
The moderator will summarize the discussions. Speakers will be able to add final remarks if they wish. 

1. Key Policy Questions and related issues
What stakeholders are responsible for checking the credibility of fact-checkers and how can their reliability be ensured?
Is it possible to borrow or to expand on existing models such as the multi-stakeholder model in order to improve the fact-checking process?
What are the key concepts for establishing trust and how can they be implemented in fact-checking?
2. Summary of Issues Discussed

The panellists outlined several key issues fact-checkers and fact-checking initiatives face globally. Among the factors named were speed, experience, language skills, political pressure, financial burdens, legal threats, a public lack of media literacy education, lack of trust in journalism and a lack of transparency from social media companies, especially regarding algorithms.

Several further questions were raised and discussed by the panel. They included:

  • Which stakeholder(s) should be responsible for promoting education regarding media literacy and misinformation? Is there any useful framework to educate internet users about fact-checking?
  • How can the lack of funding for fact-checkers and fact-checking organisations be addressed?
  • How important is the international level for fact-checking in comparison to the national level? Is international cooperation in fact-checking achievable in ten years or 20 years?
  • Which role does the cyber-security community take in combating misinformation?
  • How can stakeholders that support or spread misinformation be included in a potential multi-stakeholder fact-checking process without affecting its integrity as a whole?

Further and more specific questions were addressed by the respective panellists both in parallel to the session using the Q&A chat window and live at the end of the workshop.

3. Key Takeaways

There are several central takeaways from the workshop and the discussion, especially regarding the methods and stakeholders involved in fact-checking.

It was established that both questions of stakeholder integration in the fact-checking process and of financing highly depend on the nature of the political system at hand. The success of fact-checking is dependent on users’ trust in the fact-checkers and institutions, which can be both amplified and damaged by government involvement in the process. This complicates questions of how to finance fact-checking in a way that both relieves the burden carried by fact-checking organisations themselves and does not damage their credibility.

Furthermore, it was proposed that education is the most central factor in combating misinformation, improving media literacy and increasing the quality of information spread online. It could also advance the objective of re-rooting public dialogue in facts and science and re-establishing the concept of truth. In this context, it was also suggested that additional work is needed to restore trust in journalism. However, how stakeholders who benefit from spreading false information can be included in and addressed by this process remains a difficult question.

Lastly, it was suggested that international cooperation in fact-checking will be of increasing importance in the future, despite the core work being on the local level.

6. Final Speakers

Speaker 1: Charles Mok, Government, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Alice Echtermann, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Jens Kaessner, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG) 
Speaker 4: BIRARDA CARINA, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 5: Obed Sindy, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

A discussion of the relationship between gender issues and misinformation exceeded the scope of this workshop, though it is highly recommended that it should be considered as a topic for future panels.

8. Session Outputs

In addition to this report, the speakers’ slides (if applicable) were gathered by the organisers.

Here is a link to the more detailed report of the workshop: 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1K2WscbbnePEaz4OEO-dHKljkdRwyo1jF/view?…

9. Group Photo
IGF 2020 WS #97 Fact-Checking: A Realm for Multi-stakeholder model
10. Voluntary Commitment

The final discussion called for a general commitment of Internet users to exercise caution and reason when encountering information online.