IGF 2023 Lightning Talk #97 Combating information pollution with digital public goods

Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (02:50 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (03:20 UTC)
SC – Room H

Global Digital Governance & Cooperation
Digital Commons as a Public Good

Ricardo Torres; UNDP and Digital Public Goods Alliance; [email protected] Fernanda Campagnucci; Open Knowledge Brasil; [email protected] Cynthia Lo; GitHub; [email protected] Giulio Carvalho; Open Knowledge Brasil; [email protected]


Ricardo Torres; UNDP and Digital Public Goods Alliance; [email protected] Fernanda Campagnucci; Open Knowledge Brasil; [email protected] Cynthia Lo; GitHub; [email protected] Giulio Carvalho; Open Knowledge Brasil; [email protected]

Onsite Moderator

Cynthia Lo

Online Moderator

Giulio Carvalho


Cynthia Lo



Targets: This proposal is corresponds to the SDGs in a number of ways, specifically with the focus on SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions) which emphasizes the importance of building strong institutions and promoting cooperation to achieve peace and justice through tackling misinformation as information pollution can harm trust in institutions as duty bearers. SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) as this session highlights barriers to innovation, technological advancements, and the development of digital infrastructure in low and middle income countries. Additionally, open-source software, open data, and open AI models as digital public goods can contribute to achieving SDG 9 and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) by providing an avenue for participation and access. Open-source software and digital tools can enhance access to technology and reduce barriers to entry, particularly in low and middle income countries in order to promote inclusive, sustainable platforms for sharing knowledge, expertise, and best practices. This session is dedicated to supporting capacity building in innovation, research, and development, and in enabling countries to understand how disinformation impacts the SDGs.



Duration (minutes)

This session will focus on the theme of Global Digital Governance & Cooperation and Human Rights & Freedoms and leading this session will be the Digital Public Goods Alliance, GitHub, Querido Diario and Open Data Index for Brazil. The Digital Public Goods Alliance and GitHub focus on how open-source and digital public goods help provide a global platform for projects that advance human rights-related work, issues with “data deserts”, and focusing on projects that help combat disinformation and tackle information pollution. While digital technologies are essential parts of our lives and provide solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges, we must urgently recognize, and help solve their downsides. This is particularly true regarding online information pollution, which has grown to be a cause of distrust and obfuscation. Digital public goods (DPGs), open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards, and open content that help attain the SDGs, can provide scalable solutions that can be adapted to meet different context-specific needs in regard to information pollution. As seen with prominent platforms like Mastodon and Signal, open-source solutions can provide promising and effective alternatives. Given their open-source nature, DPGs can be deployed and adopted quickly by different types of stakeholders, especially in advance of situations and within regions susceptible to information pollution. The session will introduce the DPG concept and its relevance to content governance and information integrity, followed by remarks from DPG products whose work can become essential tools for addressing information pollution at scale globally. Then we will welcome participants to share their challenges, opportunities, and experiences using open-source and host a conversation that will surface promising next steps for open-source adoption in the fight against information pollution.

In order to create an inclusive session for in person and online this session will include a real-time interactive poll and surveys: Use real-time polling that both onsite and online attendees can participate in and the instant feedback will be discussed during the event with Slido and with GoogleForms as a backup. In order to plan for different time zones, we hope to record the session and share the talk at different times throughout the day. Next, this session will provide networking opportunities for online participants with a virtual portal using a Slack channel for digital networking opportunities where onsite participants can also join these sessions through their devices. Lastly, we plan on creating post-event follow-ups for continued engagement with a discussion forum, research groups and a community group on social networking sites where attendees can continue to interact and share their experiences from the event. Additional background papers to provide a better hybrid experience and post event interaction: - Querido Diario: https://queridodiario.ok.org.br/en-US/sobre, - Data Emergency, on how the open data index helped us to open up data during the Covid-19 pandemic: https://ok.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Ebook_EmergenciaDados_OKBR… - Data Ecosystem in the Brazilian Amazon, on how groups are generating and sharing data about climate and environment in the region: https://ok.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Ebook_EcossistemaDeDados.p…

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Highlight tools that are lesser known on misinformation and disinformation.

There was interest in what digital public goods were and how they could be implemented

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Provide more hands on opportunities to interact with tools and perhaps a demo could be effective.

A broader understanding on what digital public goods are is needed to ensure we can support the prevention of disinformation and misinformation

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

Combating information pollution with digital public goods report

This lighting talk opened with an overview of the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA) which is a multi-stakeholder initiative to accelerate attainment of the sustainable development goals by facilitating the discovery, development, use of and investment in digital public goods. The DPGA “defines digital public goods as open source software, open data, open AI models, open standards and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable laws and best practices, do no harm, and help attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” An example of a DPG is District Health Information System 2 (DHIS2), is the world's largest health management information system platform. This was followed by an overview of GitHub. GitHub is a complete software developer platform to build, scale, and deliver secure software with 100+ million software developers and used by 4+ million organizations from governments to international development organizations. Open source software like digital public goods are built on GitHub. 


This session focused on how digital technologies are essential parts of our lives and provide solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges, we must urgently recognize, and help solve their downsides. This is particularly true regarding online information pollution, which has grown to be a cause of distrust and obfuscation. During this session the speakers provided an overview on how policies are needed to combate deep fakes, analyze online news media, verifying crowdsourced data, monitor technology companies’ legal terms, improve access to government policies and lastly, gain insights into the influence of digital technologies on societal conflict.

Mis- and disinformation are typically addressed through reactive measures against specific attacks or proactive prevention efforts. While these approaches are necessary and valuable, they are inherently endless and fail to address the root of the problem. Exploiting vulnerabilities for political gains will always attract malign actors, outnumbering those interested in prevention.

The issue of disinformation arises from vulnerabilities in the tools that mediate the information environment. These vulnerabilities persist because fixing them conflicts with the economic incentives of large platforms. Therefore, it is crucial to increase the costs associated with leaving these vulnerabilities open and provide incentives for their resolution. Alternatively, obligations should be imposed on actors to compel them to address these vulnerabilities.

The session provided two examples with Open Terms Archive publicly records every version of the terms of digital services to enable democratic oversight. They address a critical gap in the ability of activists, journalists, researchers, lawmakers and regulators to analyse and influence the rules of online services. Open Terms Archive enables safety by equipping actors who are already engaged in addressing these vulnerabilities. It amplifies their capabilities and facilitates connections for mutual reinforcement, ultimately enabling more effective action.

The second example is Querido Diario, developed by Open Knowledge Brazil, it addresses the challenge of accessing and analyses official decision-making acts throughout Brazil’s cities. With no centralised platform available, the only reliable source of information is in the closed and unstructured PDF files of official gazettes where they are published. To tackle this information gap, Querido Diario’s robots help collect, process, and openly share these acts. Launched over a year ago, it has grown into a comprehensive repository with more than 180,000 files, continuously updated with daily collections. Querido Diario helps combat information pollution by providing a transparent and reliable source of data that can be used to fact-check and counter false narratives, enabling informed analysis and promoting accountability. The primary users are researchers, journalists, scientists, and public policy makers and it helps benefit various sectors including environmental researchers and journalists, education NGOs, and scientists working with public data. Today, Querido Diario’s coverage reaches 67 cities, where 47 million people live. The next steps involve scaling up to include all 26 Brazilian states and at least 250 cities. The project aspires to incorporate Natural Language Processing models and integrate its data with other public datasets, helping users contextualise information even more.

Finally we closed with a discussion on a gradient approach to AI openness. The DPGA developed an exploratory framework to assess this uses cases of AI where full openness was not possible or not desirable. The audience were interested in the use of AI and preventing misinformation and disinformation which we aim to explore in future sessions.