You are here

IGF 2018 - Day 1 - Salle XII - OF19 Information Disorder: Exploring Remedial Potential

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Paris, France, from 12 to 14 November 2018. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

***

 

>> RASMUS NIELSEN: I'm the direct of the study of journalism at the University of Oxford, and I've been asked to moderate this session and to kick it off with a few initial observations before we turn to the real substance of the session, which is the presentations by my physical low panelists and then, of course, the discussion that we hope will ensue with all of you engaging with your input on how we collectively can address problems of information disorder in different context around the world.

      I was asked just to provide a little bit of initial input as an academic to connecting practice and research from the work we do at the Reuters institute and the work done by other researchers in academics around the world on what we know at this stage about problems of information disorder from independent evidencebased research.

      Just to feed into the discussion of what we might do about the different kinds of problems that we face around the world.

      I think the first thing I'll say is that the starting point here really in many ways is still the report that was suspected by the Council of Europe with the title "Information Disorder" itself, which makes a number of us think of observations that are as important today as they were when they were made first last year by Claire and Assain as we talk about information pollution as they term it, and it's a really powerful analogy in that it reminds us that the problems of information disorder that we face are essentially about light pollution, the interplay between us, what we want as human beings, all the many different things we want, and technology. The ways in which technology empower us to do it.

      Information disorder, like pollution, in many ways is often unintended, though sometimes calculated byproduct of the ways in which we use technology that is we useless use for understandable purposes. As for pollution, I suppose we can also take from the analogy that it offered to us that it's dangerous to think in terms of sort of be an endall solutions. Information disorder, like problem pollution, is probably not a problem that will go away, but a set of problems that we have to manage and find ways to minimize to insure that we can realize the full positive potential both of each other, and also of technology while minimizing the harm that is generated in the process.

      There's another important point that's worth reiterating in a conference like this, which is that they warn very strongly against using the term "fake news."  If I can allow myself a little bit of editorializing here. I have to say I find it a little disappointing that that term is so central to how this issue is phrased by the governance forum itself and many of the institutes involved here. Why is that? That's not a question of theological disputes over concepts or terminology. This is a really important, substantially important, point that is worth reiterating here.

      The term "fake news" is, first, dangerous. It's dangerous because it's demonstrably. This is demonstrated not only on a daily basis by many prominent politicians, including some who live in rather prominent white houses, but also by independent research. The consequences of such political discourse, which we see in many countries around the world and demonstrates that this undermines credibility in independent information providers.

      The term is dangerous. It's also misleading. It's misleading because much of what we discuss when we discuss problems of information disorder are neither fake nor news, which makes the term "fake news" rather inadequate to describe the nature of the problem. It's not fake in the sense that it can be factually accurate information that is released with malicious intent. There has been instances of that in several countries with strategic leaks of information that in itself is factually accurate. It was partial information. It was released with strategic timing to influence elections, in other words, and other ways undermine political processes.

      I'm glad to see both the European Commission and the government has explicitly distanced itself, and I hope many others will follow that. Again, this is back by research that undermines people's confidence.

      Just a few other things, and I will Tweet some links if people are interested. Just some other remarks from me, and then we'll hear from our panelists.

      It's clear from independent research, obviously, that we have real problems with information disorders. Western these are enabled by some of the same technologies we use for legitimate purposes. The question is how can we contain the unintended consequences and realize the full positive consequences.  Me too is powered by the same dynamics, and the question I suppose is how can we have one without the other or empower one without empowering the others.

      We know that the actors and context that influence how disinformation plays out are different around the world. The actors include foreign governments, domestic politicians, commercial actors and us as citizens sometimes, what we might think of as bottomup disinformation where we often in good faith or sometimes with ideological, political, or other convictions are spreading information that could be harmful.

      Context matters. Access matters. In terms of the research, I will just say that most of the empirical evidencebased independent research we have seen, unfortunately, is almost exclusively focused on the highly unusual and global perspective context of the United States, and I think we can learn much from that research, but we should be very careful before we assume that things that are found in the U.S. necessarily applies elsewhere.

      Just a few topline observations before we turn to the panelists of what we have found from research in the United States. First, and I think this is an important part of the discussion, some of the best empirical research suggests that in the United States where this debate became very prominent after the 2016 election and influence global discourse around this problem, researchers estimate that 25% of Americans were exposed to false and fabricated information in the runup to the 2016 election.

      25%. That means 75% were not. 25% is it a big number, but it might be a lower number than the one many of us have in mind. I think there is a question sometimes about whether we have an accurate evidencebased grasp of the scale and scope of problems of disinformation and the U.S. research.

      Sometimes the problem is of somewhat different contour as assumed in some discussions.

      Secondly, we know that for multiple studies that the reach of false and fabricated information on the web is often more limited than we might assume, but it's also very important to recognize that on social media and some disinformation providers have far greater reach than they have on the observe web. There are very specific problems that particularly when it comes to social media platforms and messaging applications. We can put in the parenthesis television and whether that's fine for the discussion.

      It's clear that social context matters here. It's about actors and technology and also about the context in which people seek out and use information. In the United States, like in many other countries around the world, the context is one of low trust in institutions, high polarization, and in large part of the population have turned their backs against established media.

      Indeed, when we in audience research ask people to define what the term "fake news" means for them, sadly, unfortunately, very often the problem that people offer is poor journalism. Now, I don't personally believe that poor journalism is the central driving force of information disorder as we see it today, but the fact that much of the public thinks so is in itself important. I think it's an important part of the conversation today, what with he can do to insure that independent journalism is, A, sustainable, B, trusted when it is trustworthy, and, C, an effective part of institutional setup that provides checks and balances of problems of information disorder.

      With that kickoff, I think we have an outstanding panel to discuss what different actors are trying to do about addressing these issues. We have, first, Tanja, and then we'll turn to others after that. Tanja, over to you     

     >> TANJA KERSEVAN SMOKVINA: I was asked to give you information on international approaches and what the Council of Europe is doing in this sphere.

      As you correctly describe, this is a very complex and multinational problem, and it can be addressed by very simple onedimensional solutions, and maybe ‑‑ sorry.

      Also, we can see that the states are not doing at the moment a lot of concrete activities. So they act mostly as a kind of enablers and facilitators of discussions. Many established specific task forces, and there is not much work done on this institutional administrative or legislative level.

      In the international forum, we have created a document for those who haven't seen it yet. It's a great resource. Also, providing a lot of tangible opportunities, tangible steps that can be implemented in our practices. What is the main problem with information disorder is that it doesn't only undermine the trust in Democratic institutions, like media, but also in terms of this overall pollution also creates good grounds for terrorists which give rise to lowering of our trust in evidence and in the long run creates disengagement and also sharpen the divisions in the society.

      But when we come to this regulatory level, it is always a problem to tackle the issues related to speech with classical regulatory measures. We always have this fear that this can turn into a censorship machine, and also, on the other hand, if we require that the digital platforms take more responsibility and do a lot of work on their own they also ‑‑ it also can be tricky. They also can turn into private censorship machines.

      There has to be some balance achieved, and I believe that there is room for collaboration in this sphere.

      Still, they are the new gatekeepers. We already have an established set of mechanisms for addressing the old gatekeepers. We are about to find the new ways and balance, proportionate ways to address these new gatekeepers.

      This is recognized also in the Council of Europe and the recommendations of the Council of ministers on the roles and responsibilities of intermediaries. The document was adopted this year in March 2018, and I think it's quite a landmark, pioneering document because it is very clearly outlining the role and, also, entrusting the responsibility not only of the states, but the intermediaries as well.

      Also, important in stressing that all the information coming from this governmental side has to be prescribed by law and mustn't be excessive and clearly necessary and proportionate if we can deem it as a kind of Democratic measure.

      In the European Union last week it was adopted, which is also an important document. We have to highlight that here. Many see it as a good progress, and others fear that it will leave some grounds for private companies, big tax turning into private regulators.

      I think there is still a lot of questions about how this document will be implemented in the daily work of the regulatory authorities. On one hand, for sure, it will cause some action on the side of the corporations, but it also gives room to form new coregulatory regimes, participatory regimes, which can be, in a way, says a good solution for this complex problems.

      We have to also bear in mind that there is a range of responsive possible. Not only selfregulatory or regulatory. We also have lots of great work being done by the civil society organizations, NGO's, and this has to be further supported.

      Also, imagine the role the regular la TOERZ. I think there's no role without analysis of possible implications and impact of different interventions. Also, it seems there already is a lot of understanding of communication processes, but as you said, there is a lack of very targeted research. Specifically, I think there is a lack of research into offline effects, communication, says and also, it should be highlighted and bear in mind here that sometimes we neglect different forms of communication. We focus on news and facts. We are concerned with truth and reality, but there is more than that in our communication. We saw the transfers of beliefs, says of emotions, of different narratives, and this is something I think has to be taken into account here.

      Taking into consideration just 11-member states at the moment, but it will be broadened very soon to the remaining European countries. It was interesting that we found out we examined the existing initiatives of regulatory type and selfregulatory and raising awareness type. We found out that this these 1 1 countries most of these initiatives are one quarter into this. Despite these problems being so multidimensional and trans-border. They are so far limited on a nation state level. I think maybe we can discuss how to broaden the scope of this initiative and find a good way of collaboration here. Thank you.

      Great. Thank you very much. I think it's definitely a point we should return to when we open up the discussion. You can tell something about the European ‑‑ and what new members are doing to address these issues.

     >> Yes. The European union, as you know, is the association that gathers all the public service broadcasters of Europe. Plus, also some commercial broadcasters. For us this debate has been always a little slippery because for us fake news, simply acting of making good journalists, so it's very difficult to define this dimension. Of course, we arrive at this dimension existing in itself, and it's a central problem that cannot be solved simply by making good journalists.

      So we have over the years, we have tried to define a number of initiatives that could work better in order to tackle this problem. One of the ‑‑ one of the most effective that we have done is called Eurovision Newswire, social newswire, and that's the equivalent of what we have run for the exchange of news. We have added to the exchange of traditional TV news. We have added this exchange that is cooperatively based. These are factchecking of user generated contents.

      More and more the news that we rely on broadcasting are based on material that can be found only on the Internet and not provide by traditional media actors. Not news agencies, not other broadcasters, so the reliability of this is very disputable, and it's important for all the newsroom in Europe and in the world to be HUR that this material is important because the moment that the news, fake news, exists into the Internet, then it's bringing into the media world, traditional media world. This has a disruptive effect. It not only consolidates fake news into believable journalists, readers, et cetera, et cetera. Also, de-crediblize once it was discovered that it's not true. For us it's dangerous and important to tackle properly.

      We created a network of 450 journalists of less than one year of exercise in 28 countries. What they do is once they find something on the web that interesting, but they are not sure about the sources, they provide to the network and they ask everybody that could make some work on that, some research, some verification to share this information. Then at the end of the assessment that has to be done, unfortunately, as you know, in very short span of time, this news if validated, could be used in traditional media.

      This is very effective answer. Of course, you cannot tackle all the issues of the world. We can only tackle the one that are immediately at your side. The problem there, again, is ‑‑ we've seen this during the election campaign, where the immediately reaction is fundamental. We have seen that this kind of work cannot be done properly without a full cooperation of the social network because you don't know when you look at the news if this is the one that is flying and that is going very fast across the social media users. In Japan when we did the event with some platforms to work on that, even if you know which one is the news that is to be verified and you discover that it's fake, then the platform needs to do something to involve that this could spread around. The most incredible news is the one that spreads faster. If you say that donkeys walking on the street, this is nothing. If you say donkeys fly, it I'll read it. The only way this works is if this work can be done together.

      The success of the experience of the social newswire is bringing another thing that some of the tools are open tools. When you want to verify the exact date of a feature, when you want to verify the sources, when you want to verify the location, some tools that are open source can be easily adapted for this kind of verification. We are putting online for the community of journalists and a number of tools ‑‑ number of tutorials that can help people do their job.

      Social and media newswire is for news that are relevant beyond the country. News that could be of interest and could be spread and shared around Europe. It is a news only of the country, the interest of the others to verify something is fake in Italy belongs only to the Italians, there is not a lot of interest.

      It's important to empower the journalists newsroom, and you know there is a gap of generation because the old generation of journalists, like myself, are not used to use these kind of skills and tools.

      This more and more this tutorial are provided and are quite successful. It means that we have provided reports that research is basic for understanding, and this report is called "The Perfect Storm."

It's a very interesting reading if you have the time, and it's online and available for everybody. "The Perfect Storm" indicates there are many factors, as was mentioned before, that are happening together.

      There is the weakening of the traditional media. There is the rise of new media and the people that only get information through the social media, for instance. There is also the polarization of the journalistic profession. If a journalist is paid 8 Euros for news, and produce 20 news a day, what kind of quality can you expect? There is a problem basically in the quality of journalists.

      This doesn't affect the public broadcasters because we have usually journal Is under regular contract, but all the rest of the profession is now really affected by this. Of course, it's consequence on the quality of the journalists. For us the quality of journalists is essential, and we are doing seminars in all the countries within the newsroom with the journalists, with the manager of journalists because most of the time the work is to be done together with the management and with the I.T. part because more and more there are skills that are not usually in the profession that are needed. Absolutely needed if you want to be effective in this world.

      There are 72 members around Europe. Also, we do participating to other activities. This is why we coorganize with the Council of Europe because, for instance, we participate to the working group on the algorithms. There is a second group on quality journalists. We are proud to be part of this.

      Also, we participate through all the efforts that are going in this direction. For instance, our director of journalists participates at the high level panel expert group of the European commission, but I don't know if you are aware, at the end of the day most of the profession ‑‑ what are gathered in the sounding boards, they disassociate themselves from the final conclusion of the working group because the ‑‑ as you probably are aware, some weeks ago the final outcome of the expert group was ‑‑ a number of selfregulation by some social media platforms that they have to accomplish and there will be hopefully edification of the effortiveness of their engagement. This is why we took distance from this conclusion. There is no measurable tool for understanding if this selfregulation has been effective.

      The social media remain the only one that can assess what they have done, and they are not even obliged to disclose their tools. This is the work that we are doing, for instance, in the algorithm working group.

      It's impossible that so important decision for citizenship, about elections, are based on algorithms that you are not aware on which principle they work.

      Just to close, two other important things that we are doing. This efforts for the information disorder and the quality journalists cannot be divided and split from another thing that is absolutely crucial, the safety of journalists. The fake news are a way to kill quality journalism, but there is a most effective way. That is to kill the journalist. Then there is no need for fake news. You kill the journalist, and in some cases most of the information, most of the investigative journalist is gone.

      You cannot split two jobs. These are two parts of the same activity. You cannot forget the one and doing the other.

      The final point is that we participate with a very interesting initiative that is the journalist trust initiative. I leave the floor to somebody else that can take better this point.

     >> RASMUS NIELSEN: Thank you very much. This is a perfect way to talk about reporters without borders. It's particularly the journalism trust.     

     >> Yes, thank you very much to you and the Council of Europe for having us. To maybe surprise you a little and kick this off, as the human rights NGO and campaigner I will talk a lot about money.

      As you see, I have adjusted my outfit accordingly. Reporters without borders is mainly a human rights NGO. We have, I think, lately discovered the importance of the economic angle of things. Also, including this debate around online disinformation.

      For two main reasons. One is we are more and more deeply understanding that in order to sustain independent journalism, you need a healthy media landscape. Or to turn this around, if the media landscape is not healthy and functioning, also in economic terms and sustainable, it's almost impossible to sustain independent journalism.

      The second reason is that we are observing, I think, not very scientifically, but as human beings, that the behavior of humans and also the behavior of companies is mainly driven by benefits and incentives. Maybe also by values. Hopefully, but not only. Also, by money, to put it straight.

      So let's follow the money. This was our initial idea behind our initiative. Most of you know, Reporters Without Borders, our flagship publication which is the world freedom press index, which we publish every May. It assesses and computes and analyzes, let's say, the traditional threats against journalists, when are many physical and legal. Journalists are being hurt, killed, jailed. To be honest, this is usually very easy to pinpoint because it's pretty much black and white. You usually have somebody to denounce. As it relates to this economic angle, there seemed to be news threats in addition to this. Technological, economic threats to journalism and journalists. We call them invisible prisons.

      The problem here this is not so easy to pinpoint or analyze. You don't have a clear villain to denounce. It's a pretty messy, I would say, and confusing environment. We asked ourselves what are the main instruments or criteria which define the production and distribution of information these days. I think we were ending up with two main spheres let's say. One is a traditional one. Codes of ethics and practice of our profession, which, frankly, is not rocket science to come down with a list of elements where good journalism is. It goes back to the Munich charter, and you have all these ethical codes. I think there are 400 plus of them. They are pretty much identical. Telling you what the professional norms of journalism are. These days you have algorithms, which are guiding the distribution of content. Also journalistic content.

      Our main understanding is that these two are totally disconnected. They don't communicate. The ethical norms, and I'm not talking so much about compliance, whether or not they are being observed, but just the creation and the guarding of these ethical professional norms in journalism are mainly driven by journalists, which is selfregulatory principle.

      While the distribution of journalism is mainly drawn up, defined, guarded, and run by tech people in the Silicon Valley. Our main objective, let's say, with the Journalism Trust Initiative is to connect these two spheres. To translate professional norms of journalism into algorithmic distribution of journalism, which might sound a little technical, but this is how we understand selfregulation in the twenty first century. We believe it should be journalists and not techies to define the criteria for algorithmic distribution of content.

      How are we going to do this? We picked a very ancient instrument which is standard setting. You can think of ISO, which probably everybody knows from car safety and door handles, but it also reaches out to services quite a bit.

      We applied and launched a standardization process under the guidelines of the European subset of ISO, so the European standardization to develop and implement trust indicators for journalism. For mainly not only human, but also algorithmic decision making. This brings us back to the economic angle where, if you ask yourself what is the business model of the platforms, it's mainly selling advertising, right? We believe that in this trust equation, it's not just about media outlets, but it's also to a larger extent about advertisers as well, which we believe need to be included not only in this equation and theoretical sense, but also in terms of projects, regulation, whatever solution we might seek in this debate or around ‑‑ or all around this information.

      Interestingly, if you talk to advertisers, they are facing the same problems. I mean, of course, they are also outliars in the advertising business that just go for reach no matter what. The majority, we understand, is trying to protect their brand reputation, which is quite hard online when you find your latest chocolate bar next to child porn or IS recruitment or hate speech.

      They have a vested interest in these trust indicators as well, and this is the main logic we tried to establish. If we can align ad spending with the compliance to ethical professional norms in journalism, it can automatically help to re-monetize journalism. This is what we have tried to establish. We have launched this process with a number of around 70 stakeholders along with the guidelines of standardization. The standard, including public concertation, is bound to come out in about a year from now.

      Thank you.

     >> RASMUS NIELSEN: Thank you very much. I think we ended on a perfect note there from observation about the limitations of one stakeholder responses to an elegant call for a response that builds on the interest of the public, but involves not only public authorities and advertisers, technology companies, and journalists/news media itself.

      We should open up now for questions or comments from the floor. When you raise your hand, please use the mike and identify yourself and direct your comment or question at one of the panelists.

     >> XAVIER BANDO: My name is Xavier Bando. I'm working on a small project, a contest speech project. It's a kind of website database of misconceptions and prejudices that can be found on the Internet on various subjects. I think the civil society must also have a role to play and be present online and also act as a vector of counter speech to prejudices. I wanted to ask the Council of Europe, I think it's not just regulation, but it's also proactively going online and occupying the space. Thank you.      

     >> PANELIST: I will ask for help, a colleague sitting in the audience who is representing the Council of Europe. I'm a member of a committee dealing with artificial intelligence, addressing the possible implications of algorithms.

      This issue is being highlighted quite a few times by the Council of Europe as well, but I would really like if possible Elaina, can you answer this question? Okay     

     >> ELAINA: I have to say that they're working for all sorts of stake holders. What we are doing, we are trying to connect business, civil societies, governments, and put them at one table to discuss and develop certain synergies. The report that was mentioned today, the information report, in the end suggests a vast number of conclusions which in particular show how different types of stakeholders can work together. It even has proposals for some specifics where civil society could work with the media and where civil society could work with the governments, so I really advise you to find the report. It's available online free of charge, and actually, there you will find a list of conclusions.

      Thank you.

     >> JULIE: Hi. Julie from Reuters institute. My question is probably to all of you, so you can decide who wants to take it, but it goes to your point, the colleague from the EBU, really, which is that it's not just a question of dealing with trust and credibility on the side of quality journalism or disinformation and isolation. There is also a question of journalism safety.

      I'm wondering if you could talk to the intersection of these themes. We have a situation now where there's mounting evidence of statesponsored disinformation campaigns targeting journalists and journalism with a view to either through harassment or shutdowns or other threats seeking to actually weaponize disinformation as a means of attacking and undermining journalism. I'm interested to know how you think we could tackle that intersecting threat.

     >> PANELIST: Might sound a little boring, but I cannot just repeat myself. It's the economy, stupid. We find in many, many places, for example, if you take Mexico, which is the most dangerous place on earth for journalists, apart from Syria, that the safety of journal Is there and killings have an economic dimension because it's not the wellpaid fully employed network correspondent from the capital, but usually the precarious freelance person, local reporter, who puts him or herself in harm's way.

      There you have a media economy which is thriving, which is growing four times faster than the Mexican economy, so it can afford sensible and safe journalism, and exactly the opposite happens. This, I think, tells us that it really has a lot to do with the sustainability of our profession.

      Let's not be mistaken. I think at a large-scale journalism as a business is failing, and whenever markets are failing, usually I also believe it's an antitrust issue, which, again, I mean, we all say remember, which was mentioned already, the E.U. high level group. I think the largest and most powerful weapon of the European commission ‑‑ competition, right? As a weapon, as an instrument it was taken off the table from day one of this high-level group. Quite surprisingly to me, I must say.

      We believe really that it is a question of failing markets and competition as well.

     >> AUDIENCE: I think that a lot of things can be done. First, again, we are looking for spreading information. For instance, I would be delighted if we can ‑‑ if you, here in the room, can tell us a word, because there has been a case that there's been neglected by the public opinion in Europe, but it's the first case of a sentence of a court against trolls attacking journalists for intimidating in their investigative journalists and where the attack that started then arriving to the real world.

      I don't know if ‑‑ can I ask to share with us?

     >> Good morning. Just briefly, there was a case, as Giacomo said, where there was a court case where a journalist of the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation had been subjected to a longtime persecution by trolls. Wouldn't name them or their ‑‑ but, anyway, a couple of them are Fins, and one was finally convicted of this persecution, and one was convicted to a prison term of one and a half years. The other was given a sort of conditional term of one year. I think that's a good beginning.

      The courts are going to ‑‑ are beginning to take these cases serious. Thank you.

     >> MODERATOR: There's a question here.

     >> AUDIENCE: I'm from the Russian Department of Foreign Affairs. I have actually a couple of questions to your panelists.

      The first one will be the following. Well, I understand perfectly well that while there's this motivation to sort of move away from the fake news notion towards somewhat more probably broad and more generalist notion, which is not as discredited in some sort of confrontation of campaigns as now. We basically support these initiatives to try it or sort of reach some sort of international understanding and expert level of what disinformation might be. You can call it disinformation disorder, but until there is consensus of what basically information disorder or you can call it whatever you want might be, the explanation of information and disinformation, the way you put it in a book might be met favorably from all the sides for, I would say, council of Europe space. My question is, what, do you support some intergovernmental initiative to come up with negotiations and expert talks in order to try to reach a general, be it council of Europe, or in this broader term, U.N. consensus when information disorder maybe. Until, once again, you have this international consensus in broader sense. I doubt that current information disorder notion might be implemented within the council of Europe space as some would universally agree.

      That's one thing ‑‑ and, by the way, we have actually many times come up with ‑‑ to launch governmental talks on this matter, but, unfortunately, this proposal so far has only been met with ‑‑ I would say. Once again, my question is whether or not you would support some sort of initiative to gather governmental experts to reach some sort of compromise, universally acceptable notion of what disinformation might be now.

      The second question, is about I do believe that media outlets participate in this initiative now, and I also know that there have been quite a few consultation within this group. It's also very good thing to communicate trust ‑‑ during trust indicators in ‑‑ I mean, to offer some sort of recommendations to those who are forming Internet space now, meaning Internet providers like Google. I don't know any other huge players in the field, but my concern is that once you communicate your understanding on what can be trusted and what media cannot, the criteria determines this issue. It might be somewhat fluid. Could you dispel my fears on that?

     >> MODERATOR: We'll take a quick response and then have a last question.

     >> PANELIST: I'm not speaking for the Council of Europe, but a lot of these things you are asking for are existing already. I mean, the Council of Europe has already published and passed a recommendation of the safety of journalists, a recommendation on media ownership transparency. It's currently working with an expert committee on quality of journalism environments, which will also be moving towards a recommendation towards the end of next year.

      The instruments are out there. I think it's up to member states to rectify them and take them to national law. On the trust indicators, to dispel your concerns, first of all, it's important to say that we are not looking at content because we believe that any instrument or mechanism that will judge rate or have an opinion on content is per se a problem because it can be easily misused and turned into censorship. What we are working on is purely on the procedural institutional level. Just to give you one example, identity.

      More or less disclosure rules for media outlets, which we believe already contribute a lot to trust. If media outlets are transparent about who they are.

      A second drafting committee is working on criteria on journalistic methods, complaint mechanisms and corrections if they work or not. Again, this is a very technical, instrumental, or institutional criteria, which has nothing to do with a piece of content itself, but the workings behind the enabling environment of journalism. These are the criteria we are looking at.

      It's the opposite of the law. It's a totally voluntary and selfregulatory thing. Nobody is forced to take on such a standard.

     >> MODERATOR: We'll take a last question here.

     >> AUDIENCE: I've tried to take notes. There's some perspectives that haven't been debated for the table, and some of the perspectives that you are trying to deal with think of a set of agendas to deal with the phenomena. The first is information disorder, fake news, disinformation. We are talking about a dispute on speech.

      Well, speech helps us to build the comprehension of the reality. Then, the whole issue is that this on the very idea of truth. This is important because what we saw in Brazil in some research that we've done is that the idea of fake news is based on the idea of ‑‑ fake news is what the other says.

      The second relates it to the field of psychology. Many researchers are bent over the question of the emptying of the soul. I know that sounds a bit esoteric, but the idea is that we are living in an era of emptiness. People are eager to believe in something to give meaning to their life.

      The third is I heard a lot about the Internet has reached ‑‑ the speed the Internet has reached information spreading, but not as much as on present scale, the fake news industry has reached. This is an important issue also. It constitutes a set of agendas.

      I think first is the field of regulation. We have to think of carefully of regulation. The type of regulation that doesn't undermine freedom of expression, and this is a challenge. It's very tricky.

      The second is the media democratization act. You addressed it very well, but, still, we have to look into the field of codeveloping, and we have to find ways to deal in forests where the ‑‑ like ITF and ITE. These people have difficulty. We need to bring these people to the discussion of political science and science of culture.

      The last one is the technology governance, and we have to open the black boxes of algorithms and personal data and bring this discussion to the public. Thank you.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. It's an appropriate place to end. This is only the first of many panels that deal with disinformation related issues. I think there will be many opportunities to dive deeper into some of the issues that you raised now. I think we can summarize very quickly here and say it's clear that governments around the world are looking for different approaches in this space. Everyone recognizes it is complex. Everyone recognizes this requires multistakeholder responses. Everybody recognizes this requires a variety of different expertise and independent evidence. Ideally not from ‑‑ a set of emerging responses are coming out that range from an American context where we can say that a combination of an emphasis on the first amendment combined with a skepticism towards direct government response has left the field of responses largely to private companies, civil society, researchers, and nonprofits and the like to respond rather than the government effectively responding.

      There is even a question about whether the government is willing to investigate alleged crimes undermining elections and the like to a situation, for example, mainland China where clearly the government has been very strongly in favor of a very muscular interventionist response with a definition of what the government considers to be examples of rumors and misleading information and is not shy about imposing on private organizations and others to police these things in great detail. I think we can see governments looking for responses somewhere in between those two, if you will, ends of the spectrum.

      I think we've had powerful examples of what such responses might look like, ranging from reporters without borders and the work that you guys are doing around security and safety of journalists and increasing around trust, EPU, and empowering individual journalists working with member organizations to play a positive role in this respect.

      Then, of course, the work that was outlined at the beginning reminding us of the importance of not letting any of these individual responses stand on their own, but the importance of really trying to insure that we Marshall responses for a joint effort to protect fundamental rights and insure that citizens have the kind of quality information environment that they deserve.

      I look forward to being part of many of these conversations at the rest of the Internet Governance Forum. I want you to help me in thanking our panelists for this first discussion.>> because I am part of the broadcasting world and broadcasting uses advertising, I wanted to inform you that this session that will follow is about media contents and how to incentivize the production of local contents. It's another session of EDU together. Thank you.

 

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678