IGF 2023 WS #209 Viewing Disinformation from a Global Governance Perspective

Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (04:00 UTC) - Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (05:30 UTC)
WS 5 – Room B-2

Organizer 1: Jeanette Hofmann, 🔒Berlin Social Science Center
Organizer 2: Anriette Esterhuysen, Association for Progressive Communications🔒
Organizer 3: William J. Drake, 🔒Columbia Institute for Tele-Information

Speaker 1: Nighat Dad, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Clara Iglesias Keller, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Aaron Maniam, Government, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: David Kaye, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Jeanette Hofmann, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Additional Speakers

William J. Drake


Anriette Esterhuysen, Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator

William J. Drake, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Jeanette Hofmann, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What is disinformation and why is it a problem? 2. How strong and clear a baseline do existing international instruments provide for the governance of disinformation? 3. Concerning new governance initiatives, what sort of consultation and decision-making process is best suited to the governance of disinformation, and can the IGF assume a role in the process?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The workshop will provide an overview of the controversy surrounding disinformation. The workshop intends to clarify the state of knowledge about disinformation and its effects. The workshop will discuss current regulatory approaches including their impact. It will provide an overview of the different models of cooperative governance that are currently being devised. Some of these are stakeholder-led efforts, such as the Facebook Oversight Board, the Christ Church Call, the DISARM Framework, and the various proposals for new international press councils. Others are intergovernmental ‘minilateral’ or regional initiatives, such as the implementation work of the European Union’s Digital Services Act including the former Code of Practice on Disinformation. Others are intergovernmental initiatives such as UNESCO’s Guidelines for Regulating Digital Platforms. The participants will get a sense of the complexity and culture-dependency of disinformation but also a better understanding of the significant challenges of building international consensus and designing effective institutions.


Disinformation is generally seen as a problem. One aspect concerns its definition and the empirical identification of harms caused by it. A second aspect concerns adequate responses: how to address disinformation without undermining human rights? Some observers say disinformation is an urgent problem that can only be addressed through national regulation. Others believe it is a global challenge that also requires international cooperation between all stakeholders. Some believe that the scope and seriousness of disinformation are so profound that it presents a threat to democracy. Others believe that the problem of disinformation is being amplified and its regulation will result in restricting freedom of expression. In view of the controversy over disinformation, this workshop will consider two questions: (a) the definition of disinformation as a policy problem, and (b) the establishment of shared governance responses on the national and global level. (a) The definition of disinformation as a policy problem While there is agreement that disinformation can be harmful, it is challenging to determine its causes and effects in ways that facilitate robust regulation. Current definitions of disinformation emphasize the intentional dissemination of false, misleading, or manipulative information aimed at influencing public opinion or the behaviour of people. In practice, disinformation proves to be a complex issue with nationally varying actors, motives, and effects. Even seemingly clear-cut attributes like misleading information are culturally sensitive and open to different interpretations. (b) The establishment of shared governance responses First, we will consider the trend in many states to regulate disinformation. Then we will look at international instruments that may directly or indirectly bear on disinformation. Next, we will explore the different models of cooperative governance that are currently being devised. Some of these are stakeholder-led efforts, others are intergovernmental ‘minilateral’ or regional initiatives. Others are intergovernmental initiatives at the broad multilateral level.

Expected Outcomes

The ultimate goal of this workshop is to propose options for the evolving global Internet governance system to address the problem of disinformation in ways that respect human rights and reflect the diversity of interests at play, and, at the same time, connect interventions at national and global levels. In this way, the workshop hopes to contribute to the consensus-building process in understanding and adequately addressing the issue of disinformation.

Hybrid Format: The interactive roundtable format allows a dynamic and flexible discussion. The organizers have extensive experience with managing such sessions in the IGF since 2006, as well as in related international venues. This includes substantial experience with managing hybrid sessions and ensuring the inclusive participation of people who are onsite and online. The moderator will keep an eye on raised hands in both spaces, give everyone a chance to speak in turn, set time limits and promote respectful interactions, ensure people can respond to points directed at them, read out typed questions if someone’s sound fails, and so on. We will use the Zoom chat to include virtual participants and encourage as many people as are willing in the room to also log into the Zoom session. We will recruit one or two participants to live-tweet the session so that people are also able to follow the conversation in that manner.