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IGF 2020 – Day 10 – WS130 Election in times of disinformation

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the virtual Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), from 2 to 17 November 2020. 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. 

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      >> I have announcement to make.  The first one is that the session is record and hosted under the IGF Code of Conduct and UN Rules and Regulations. 

     And the chat feature is for social chat only, and only the question and answer feature is used to ask the question.  This is for attendees to ask the questions.  Thank you very much.

     >> MODERATOR: I think the session started.  My name is Mehdi Benchelah, I'm a senior officer at UNESCO for the section of Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists.

     And we are very happy to have you be in this session which has a title, Election in Times of Disinformation.  As you all know, it is a very timely subject.  And so we will have an hour and a half to discuss on the issue with our speakers. 

     So this session is organized by UNESCO and UNDP.  And I will moderate the first part of the debate with the speaker.  And I will be working with Vladimir Christiansen who is a program analyst for the Bureau of Policy and Program Support for UNDP New York. And he will moderate the questions from the public which will be for the last 20-25 minutes or something like this, of the session. 

     So please don't hesitate to ask your question in the specific Q&A section.  And IGF really wanted us to really keep the chat for more actually chat between participants and, you know, like networking, don't hesitate to share resources and links.  That is most welcome.  And keep the questions for the specific Q&A part.  Also, this session is recorded by IGF, so I hope you don't mind.

     And I will start briefly to -- I mean to remind that elections are really a key moment and a very important moment of Democratic life, first of all, because they crystallize the debate and the opposition between different political forces in the country. 

     And sometimes they bring tension which are there underlying because at that very moment they find a way to somehow to express themselves and which leads sometimes to balance.  So it is -- and there are a lot of stakes, as we know, in election.  And even in some countries it is related to not only political direction the country is going to take, but also about the distribution of resources.  So it does bring a lot of tension.  It is really an important moment, as we all know.

     And it is important also to recall that election rests upon a free flow of information and ideas.  That is really extremely important to recall that.  It highlights the role of journalism in facilitating peaceful, credible, and inclusive but also transparent and fair elections. 

     Journalists are, of course, key actors.  And because of the election process, its outcome, sometimes the legitimacy of the election can be deeply affected by disinformation.  So it is really a key issue, and we are very happy to be able to talk about that today with our speakers.

     And really to see how this disinformation nowadays, how this phenomena is affecting the electoral process. 

     We will start with the opening remarks from Mr. Guy Berger, who is the Director of Strategic planning, UNESCO Communication and Information Sectore.

     And then it will be followed by a video prerecorded by Ms. Sarah Lister, who is Head of Governance at UNDP.  So now I will let Guy Berger speak for his opening remarks.  Please, Guy.

     >> GUY BERGER: Thank you, Mehdi, I was just unmuting. 

     Hello, everybody.  I think this is going to an extremely interesting, this discussion.  I trust you can hear me all. 

     So let me thank UNDP for joining with UNESCO in this.  And these are two parts of the UN that pay a lot of attention to the integrity of elections.  And for UNESCO, recently we have done some interesting work really work in Burundi Cote d’Ivoire, Myanmar, Tunisia, Uruguay on this issue of information -- disinformation of journalism, elections.  And we have some wonderful resources that we've developed here. 

     And I will post some links in the chat which I will speak a bit about if people want to follow them. 

     Now, one of the things that we have really noticed in this year is that there has been a huge amount of attention to disinformation concerning COVID.

     And there is quite a lot of consensus about what is false in terms of content about COVID and what to do about it.  But, of course, elections are much more complicated because there is much more contestation as to what is true and what is false including in advertisements.

     And so we know that some things in the elections, some content would be clearly -- some would be clearly false, but there is a lot of gray area about what facts -- I say facts as opposed to fabrications -- what facts are really important, which ones are less important, and what do they mean?  How do you put them together? What connections do you make? 

     So this contestation in the case of election seems much more complicated.  Not to say that COVID is simple because science papers are in process, policies and process. 

     But elections are particularly -- it is not easy to pinpoint always disinformation in the sense of false or misleading content.  It is also difficult in elections because in some instances we find that internet companies are trying to deal with disinformation by looking not at content but looking at behavior.  And they have this notion called coordinated inauthentic behavior, and that is then pointed to any disinformation at play. 

     The problem with elections is that behavior is not always a way to detect disinformation because elections are about campaigning.  And campaigning involves coordination.  And sometimes there is a range of actors and their identity is not always clear. They might be issued based as opposed to quality based.  And so even to look at coordinated behavior or inauthentic behavior is not always such an easy way to identify the problem during elections. 

     But at the same time, there is a problem before the elections and during the elections and after the elections.  And the problem is that disinformation is used to fundraise, it's used to set agendas.  Because depending on what you say is important, can shift people's attention and therefore their opinions, can be used to directly impact on the opinions, can be used to suppress voting amongst particular groups or confuse people about where to vote or how to vote. 

     And, of course, disinformation can be used to discredit the whole process all together in a very anti-Democratic way.

     And the problem is amplified, of course, that there are super tools in for disinformation in the digital economy.  There's SOC puppets.  We have these networks of inter-coordinating accounts with subaccounts.  And then there's automation, and then there's micro targeting on the side of those tools. 

     And then there are operating in an environment where internet companies have a certain curation model in terms of what kind of content gets amplified and even recommended sometimes.  And that is very conducive to disinformation. 

     And then internet companies not only have this model but the way they moderate content. So curation is one thing and moderation is another thing.  And the two factors also shape the way the tools can play in the digital ecology for disinformation. 

     So UNESCO has done a very nice, if I say so myself, study called the Elections and Media in Digital Times.  And I posted the link.

     And this really points out, as maybe our moderator said, you don't have genuine elections without having a free flow of information.  It is your right in terms of international human rights to vote and to have equal suffrage and secret ballots and to go into your free expression of the will of the electorate.  That's your right to vote.  And you also have the right to freedom of expression, and you need both. 

     The problem we find with disinformation is that you have certain expression that is contradicting the right to vote.  And that raises the question then, what would be legitimate in terms of limiting the imparting of information and the receiving of information in order to protect the right to vote? And how could we avoid violations of expression that would actually even damage your electoral rights.

     So this is a challenge.  And UNESCO tried to answer this to some extent in a study that we did very recently for the Broadband Commission on sustainable development.

     We looked at different responses, how you can have this balance between expression and limits on expression and electoral integrity but keeping the core of both rights together.

     And in this study, we identified five different kinds of responses which are not panaceas, but they help us think about the issue.  One is, of course, regulation.  And that has pros and cons.  And then there is self-regulation, which has pros and cons.  And these impacts on contents that goes at least in advertising and micro targeting. 

     There is advertising, how much can be spent to when advertise can take place, the degree to which it can be micro targeted on individuals.  And also there can be regulation and self-regulation about how credible content can be surfaced instead of the disinformation.  That's number one, regulatory.

     Second, of course, is the fact checking response.  Fact checking this information and publishing the corrections.  A bit difficult when you come to the social messaging because it's under the radar.

     The third one is right to education.  Of course, today right to education cannot just be about the electoral system.  It also has to be about how you need media and information literacy to understand the Ven diagram, the overlap and how you can discriminate between information and particularly when it is working on your emotions.

     The fourth area is media responses.  And we noticed that there is lot of collaborate media responses to really investigate the information to disprove it.  These are unprecedented alliances within the media and sometimes with Civil Society.

     And then you have ethical responses that includes a code of conduct amongst political actors to avoid using disinformation and to have accountability if they are using them.

     So that's five kinds of responses, there's probably more, but those are some that are interesting how to deal with this problem and how to keep that balance of free flow but also legitimate limitations, and keeping the integrity of the right to vote.

     Of course, the problem we face is a huge volume of disinformation.  It is difficult to identify this very fast-moving, politically relevant content.  And there is very little research that has been done as to how effective our responses are to this question. 

     So I will wrap up there just by saying that coming up quite soon, UNESCO will be working on electoral issues in Somalia, Zambia, Lebanon, amongst other countries.  And we are keen to work with people in whichever countries they are to try to bring some international perspectives on how to deal with the balance of information, the right to expression, and the right to vote. 

     It is not a simple issue, and I think my colleague in her video message, Sarah Lister from UNDP, will also comment on this.  With those remarks I hand back to our moderator.  Thank you.

     >> MODERATOR: Thanks, a lot, Guy, for these remarks, these opening remarks. 

     Now I will leave Valdemar to put the video of Ms. Sarah Lister.  Well, there is some little technical issue.

     Hopefully it is going to work.  Maybe I can try.  Let's see if it works.

     >> SARAH LISTER: It is my pleasure to welcome you to today's session on Elections in Times of Disinformation co-organized by UNESCO and UNDP. 

     I'm sorry that I can't join you in person for this important discussion, whatever in person means these days.  But let me begin by thanking our partners at UNESCO for excellent collaboration in organizing the session as well as for their continued commitment to supporting journalism in elections in times of disinformation.

     We are witnessing an unprecedented increase in information sharing.  Access to the internet and digital communication is rising rapidly across the globe.  In Africa alone, the number of internet users has grown five-fold in fewer than 10 years.  And the number of Facebook users has increased by an incredible 1,100% during the same period.

     Similar patterns can be seen across other regions, suggesting a significant shift in the way people are exchanging information and engaging with others.  However, as we can see also on an almost daily basis, there is a significant downside to this, too.

     In today's digitalized world, opportunities to seek, receive and impart information and ideas between citizens, politicians, and political parties are unprecedented with information related to elections flowing faster and easier than ever. 

     Precisely because of this ease of access and because elections constitute a cornerstone of increasing governance, electoral processes are particularly vulnerable.  There is a growing concern about how disinformation campaigns coupled with micro-targeting of political messages and sophisticated online advertising through social networks and platforms could affect the outcome of future elections. 

     How can these challenges be addressed?  How can we safeguard the integrity and credibility of electoral processes and protect the information value chain? 

     Clearly there are not readymade solutions, at least not yet.  That is precisely why UNDP and UNESCO are partnering to develop our knowledge further and we are conducting research in this field to be able to better understand these issues and adapt our programming accordingly.

     Although we are still at an early stage, some elements are already coming in to focus.  An increase in transparency including, for example, fact checking services, promotes greater awareness and ultimately leads to establishing proper response protocols.

     Greater cooperation between social media platforms and electoral management bodies or EMBs was well as other stakeholders leads to a better understanding of the available options to combat disinformation. 

     Comprehensive long-term information literacy campaigns are also important and can lead to dividends well beyond elections.

     At the same time, this unprecedented ease of information sharing presents huge opportunities, too.  For example, new technology can make it significantly easier for electoral officials to register voters as well as for voters to verify their voter registration status in real time. 

     EMBs can reach voters almost instantaneously with information about any last-minute changes or updates to the process, which is particularly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

     With that in mind, UNDP in close cooperation with the Electoral Assistance Division, part of the UN's Department of Political and Peace Building Affairs, UNESCO and others aims to support EMBs and other stakeholders in harnessing these new opportunities. 

     The UNDP, as the largest provider of UN electoral assistance, has on average 25 to 30 active electoral assistance projects at any given time.  We are, therefore, tapping into this the wealth of experience to learn as much as we can about this issue and share this knowledge with others.

     We are well aware that no one grouping or actor, neither the UN nor governance, nor social media platforms can address this challenge alone.  This will require coordinated, and above all, sustained action on the part of multiple stakeholders including EMBs, the media, Civil Society, political parties and tech companies.

     Most importantly, it will require the inclusion and active participation of entire societies including, in particular, women and young people.  As the proverb says, if you want to go fast, go alone.  But if you want to go far, go together. 

     We want to go far in combating disinformation.  We want to go far in promoting electoral integrity and advancing inclusiveness political participation.  And we want to go far in addressing the roadblocks we are facing in achieving the ambitious targets of the 2030 agenda.

     That is why we are joining forces with you today.  We want to hear from you how this issue has impacted your world in both positive and negative ways.  We want to ensure that a more connected world equals a more inclusive world. 

     Thank you for your attention.  I wish you a productive discussion.  Goodbye.

     >> MODERATOR: So now I -- first of all, I wanted to ask all of the speakers if they can put on mute their mic when they are not speaking in order to avoid some disturbances on the line, that would be great.

     And now actually we're going to start the discussion with our speakers, which I'm going to introduce. 

     So we have Ms. Laura Zommer who is Executive and Editor in Chief of Chicano, the first initiative of fact checking and verification of public discourse in Latin America.  This is part of -- she is a member of the board of the International Fact Checking Network.  And she is also a lawyer.  And also, she is teaching at University in Buenos Aires. 

     We have also Ms. Mathilde Vougny, who is Electoral Conflict Prevention Specialist at UNDP; and who works on the development of electoral assistance project globally which aim in providing supports for countries, national institutions, but also Civil Society, media, and other actors to conduct credible, genuine, and transparent election. So she is part of the UNDP Joint Task Force with the European Commission on Election Assistance. 

     And then we have Souhaieb Khayati, Director of North African Bureau of Reporter Without Border, the NGO working on press freedom and journalist.  But he is working -- so he is based in Tunisia, but he is working also in Magrab, so all the countries around Tunisia.

     And I believe we have William Bird, Director of Media and Monitoring Africa, who has worked in particular on the -- to counter disinformation online in the last election in South Africa.  So we're really very encouraged to know about his point of view.

     So as we all know, disinformation is -- especially in time of election is a very complex phenomena and which calls on the concerted effort of many stakeholders in order to propose adequate responses. 

     So this is why we have this great panel with this variety of profile to have these different point of views to see how we can identify this issue a little bit better and how we can propose good practice to tackle it. 

     So I'll start.  My first question is when we speak of disinformation, we understand it as information that is false, and which is deliberately created to cause harm.

     Now, we all know that it is not a new phenomenon.  It has existed through history including since time, the period that we have election.  But I wanted to know from your perspective, and then it is a question for all speakers, so it is what in your opinion are the new trend and aspect of this phenomena?  And how do you see it in your work? 

     So I would start this question to Laura, and then after Mathilde if you can give your point of view also on it.  So please.

     >> LAURA ZOMMER: Hello, everyone, and thank you for this panel and this interesting conversation.  And thank, you, everyone that is connecting and taking part of this.

     As you said, disinformation is not necessarily something new.  What we think that makes online viral disinformation different from what we have seen in the past is on one side the volume of disinformation and also that the citizens might participate in spreading it without being aware of it in a lot of cases.

     What we think is before the audiences could receive this information via political campaigns or traditional media, but they were kind of just receptors and maybe share it with just their immediate groups.

     But now, or in the last years with social media, they can share with big groups.  These called friends that really, they are followers.  And in some cases, are now virtually participants in big disinformation campaigns that they and we not necessarily know who started.

     And then one of the different steps for us as fact checkers as opposed to the disinformation campaigns in the past, is that it is not easy to know the effort to what you are trying to make or to increase the cost of lying, you need disinformation campaign.

     This obviously means that fighting disinformation today and to fight disinformation today we have to take into account a lot of factors that were not part of the traditional public discourse landscape in the past. 

     And that includes, that part of our strategy in Tequila and Latam Chakia coronavirus work or effort during the pandemic is that the landscape today includes celebrities, includes perhaps models, musicians, actors, influencers as well as every citizen that perhaps had hundred or thousand followers and can be part of disinformation campaign without knowing it necessarily.

     And just to finish this intervention and to follow the time that you suggested, we also look into the volume of the disinformation that has increased so much.  We know that it is impossible to fact check each disinformation.  And all of the fact checkers around the world, nowadays more than 300, know clearly that we can't check everything.  And it is impossible that approach to attack or to battle this phenomenon. 

     So we need and we work on that much more media literacy on the side of audiences.  That is one of the most important solution for this problem.

     And another one is that we need technology to be quicker identifying the disinformation but also we need technology to be quicker to create the debunk and to spread it as soon as we can to avoid the repetition with that group and also with citizens that are not necessarily included in the campaign but have been part in some of that campaign.

     And also, we need, as we said, to understand much more of the psychologically on how disinformation plays with our bias.  And that is really, really important in some of our countries that are a lot of polarization, as you know. 

     And how that operate in different groups.  And when I'm talking about groups, I'm talking not only about different groups and parties ideologically, but also in terms of groups related to their ages.  It is not, at least in our experience, the same to work bias issues with old people or bias issues with young people. 

     Then that is more or less my first intervention.  It is not the same to show evidence on political subjects, that -- on health subjects that we did during all of the pandemic crisis.  And we need a better understanding on how disinformation work in each specific situation. 

     And at least in Latin America, there is not a lot of research or at least deep research related to disinformation during electoral periods.

     That is some of my approach or opinions related to that question.  Thank you.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you, Laura.  Please, Mathilde, we are very curious to hear you.

     >> MATHILDE VOUGNY: Thank you very much, Mehdi.  Thank you very much, Laura.

     I will try to expand on some of what Laura said based on my experience and not to repeat anything because she already covered a lot. 

     The first point I think you mentioned, Laura, is we need to scale like sharing to big groups compared to small groups.  And the scale is like numbers, but how I see it in my work, it also like geographically speaking.  You see what I mean?  Like the news like the news, like a piece of news that would tend to be shared only locally like you have maybe ethnic tensions -- I work a lot in Africa so a lot of examples will be based on Africa context.

     So if you have ethnic tensions between two groups, in the past it would really expand and escalate to regional issues and national issues that everybody is discussing about, and that triggers like tensions at different level in the country.

     And now with new information landscape, you can really see like the information circulation completely changed.  You see like concretely like the interfaces are really like university towns, for example.  You have university students going to a bigger town like a regional capital, provincial capital, to study there.  And there is students from all of the villages coming and study here.  And they’re all like to use the social media and messaging applications. 

     And the information they would get from their village talking to their parents then they would like to distribute it to the students around.  And you would have this information on these tensions that were really local that is distributed through the regional and at national level. 

     I mean I observed it very concretely in Ethiopia recently, but it is something that you can see in many countries.  It's really a geographical scale. 

     So I guess if we look at something that's changed is how local news really expanded to national level type of issue where it was not the case necessarily before.

     The second like big change I feel is as much as we thought of, understood, and managed the communications around elections through traditional media and like more traditional media, the rapidly evolving environment online is making like our understanding of the dynamics and how information is shared really difficult. 

     If I'm -- I mean I'm not -- I'm more working on elections than on disinformation specifically.  But if I'm thinking about how we understood the topic in 2016 and 2017, with the Brexit, U.S. elections, and how we see it unfolding now in 2019 and 2020, the strategies are very different. 

     And I think, Mehdi, you pointed to the distribution of resource and impact of political and financial interest in there.  And there are huge financial and particular interests around elections in many countries.  And that contributes to bypassing the technical solutions that are found.

     So if we identified maybe like -- for example, WhatsApp.  You have a lot of people sharing information on WhatsApp.  And then in India in they managed to limit their sharing of messages on WhatsApp.  But then they will find like new platforms, new ways to distribute the information that are not envisaged in the prevention measures that are like deployed on the ground. 

     So we always like -- we feel that we're always a bit one step behind the new trends.  If I look at Philippines in 2019, the elections, you would see the political parties would use much less like the traditional advertisement platform and rely more on the, you know, the kind of nano-influencers, not the big figures that you would see speaking all the time but more middle range influencers, 100K followers, not two or three or four million that you would traditionally follow.  And so those strategies are always adapting. 

     I think we also saw it in the U.S.A. when you had a lot of like political advertisement and you had those international interferences.

     Here during the 2020 elections I feel you had a lot more like homegrown kind of sources of disinformation.  And it is on new platform and not necessarily on Facebook or Twitter.  So it's also about like how quickly this environment is evolving and the fact that we need to find solutions, but we are always a bit one step behind.  And that is kind of the challenge. 

     And it does pose the question of are the technical solutions like the priority?  Like because we see that there is always a new way to distribute disinformation, and there is so many options with the digital landscape.  So yeah, so that would come in the next part of the section.

     So I think I will stop here because I already spoke too much.  So scale definitely geographically speaking and then rapidly involving environment on my side.  Thank you very much.

     >> MODERATOR: Very interest, Mathilde, thanks a lot for these inputs.  And now could we hear from Souhaieb, and finish then with William.

     >> SOUHAIEB KHAYATI: Thank you, Mehdi.  I'm very happy to contribute to this discussion. 

     For the North Africa region, what this distinguishes disinformation during this last years is that it has rapidly spread through social media.  And in our country, we can mention especially Facebook where insults, defamation, or violence are extremely viral. 

     And in regards to the electoral competition and disinformation, what we have noticed in our region is that many candidates use social media to spread fake news and information during electoral campaign. 

     And even professional journalists and media outlets face many difficulties to cover electoral campaign where content and programs are completely absent and found themselves first to comment on disputes, disinformation, and fake news.

     With journalism it is possible to verify and check the accuracy of information.  And journalists, journalistic ethics impose regulation and self-regulation to journalists and media outlets.

     Journalists are no longer the only producer of information.  But quality journalism remains the only alternative to disinformation and our work with our North Africa Bureau of RSF is -- it's about building capacities to media outlets and journalists to make quality coverage of electoral campaign. 

     We began with Tunisia where the elections are a new process with the democratic transformation.  Tunisia faced four elections in a decade with -- I don't find the -- the regulation about media were not very clear.

     So most of our work consists in compiling media outlets and journalists to inform Tunisian citizens and to make the demonstration that quality journalism is the only valid alternative to counter disinformation.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you, Souhaieb.  Please, William.

     >> WILLIAM BIRD: Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you very much.  It's been fascinating already. 

     And not to -- I think some of the others have already mentioned some critical aspects and elements. 

     I think from our take, the fact that it is one of the greatest facilitators of disinformation is the fact that it is on this device, you know, it's on our mobile devices, it's something that has invaded our personal space in quite a fundamental and life-changing way. 

     And that has significance across every single aspect of disinformation in that we tend to receive it on that device which means that it comes very often from our friends, our family, our loved ones, people that are in our circles of trust that we are more likely to believe.  And it comes in different forms that are also very deeply personalized.

     So it used to be the case that there would be this greater sense of shared knowledge and a shared experience, whereas now with the micro-targeting and the kind of things that we're seeing that some of our other speakers have referred to, not only are they able to use specific networks to do things, As Professor Berger pointed out at the start, but they are able to target us on an individual basis and target us repeatedly. 

     Plus the fact that there's so much disinformation now.  All the people putting out disinformation have to do is they no longer have to and persuade you that their view is better.  All they have to do is create enough doubt in your mind about reality and you're suddenly placed in a position where you're no longer sure what you can do or how to act.

     The moment you put a person in the position where they can't make an informed decision, that for an elections is like the death nail.  Why? You have to make an informed decision to vote, otherwise fundamentally you can't have a democratic state.  So it's those things that are then combined to add to that.  I think in addition to the fact that we're playing catch-up, as that was also mentioned, there is a lack of global accountability and accountability mechanisms for these things.

     So what we also tend to find -- and we have seen this play out so powerfully in the recent elections in the U.S.A. -- where you have got these massive platforms that have different rules. 

     So on one platform disinformation of this kind is removed.  And exactly the same information on another platform is allowed.  Again, it is not to say that that contributes directly to disinformation, but it does make its identification and combating and mitigating it that much harder.

     And you also then have got the scenario where you have got a global player up here -- and I say that, you know, because I'm down at the bottom of the continent of Africa in South Africa -- and they are deciding and determining the rules and the systems that should impact elections that are occurring in our country according to the rules and our constitution and our principles.

     So you have got quite a significant disjunct that occurs and each of those things allows for this virus really that is as insidious and as dangerous as COVID-19, for example, to just spread that much further and to also then further disempower your public. 

     Because, again, in the moment your public aren't sure what to do, then they've got a problem.  Two other things that I think have contributed massively to the spread of disinformation.  One is politicians now, senior leaders lie routinely.  It used to be something where if they were called out it would enough to shame and embarrass them and even potentially into resigning. 

     But we know that many of the leaders in some of the biggest politics in the world now lie as a matter of course.  They just lie, lie, lie.  And the moment they get caught in one, they just add on to it and keep lying and think there is no consequence to that. 

     In addition to that -- and that makes life very difficult, right, when leaders of ostensibly democratic nations lie as a matter of course and as a political strategy now.

     It means that how on earth are you meant to believe things that people in a position of trust are saying?  You can't believe them.  So why should you not believe something else that you receive on social media? 

     In addition to that, one of the most critical, critical elements that helps a democratic state function is, of course, media where they have to offer independent, credible, fair, accurate information. 

     So in those matters we've seen politicians now lying as a matter of course, we've also seen systematic and systemic attacks on media and on media freedom and on the media's ability to report.  And again, the moment you undermine media, it then makes it a lot easier for disinformation to spread.  So if your key countering forces are being prevented from being able to combat disinformation effectively.  So not only because of laws and they credibility being undermined, but big sustainability issues around media.  The moment those things get undermined means that it strengthens the hand, the evil hand of disinformation.  Thanks.

     >> MODERATOR: Thanks, William, for this explanation.  It is really extremely interesting to highlight that it is not only a technical or a problem of platform or -- but it is really also a political problem.  And that is very interesting to present it the way you did.

     Now I would like to go to another question.  I have to say we are pretty late, but I mean important is not the length but the quality of the discussion.

     But I will ask you if you can for the rest of the question, if you can do it a little bit quicker, quite quicker in order that we can go ahead with the different question. 

     Now that we had this interesting overview of some of the new challenges of disinformation in to the electoral process, I would like to know what are the good practice that you have been implementing at your level to tackle this issue?  And if you can give some specific example in your experience, that would be extremely interesting to share. 

     So now maybe I will start with Mathilde, if you can start with this question.

     >> MATHILDE VOUGNY: Okay.  Thank you very much, Mehdi.  And I will put a clock.  Yeah, quick. 

     So because we have a lot of speakers, I would focus probably on one main element. And it is coordination, coordination, coordination.  And I think it is always the same issue.  It is even the same issue with -- because I work a lot on preventing violence more generally, you know.

     And what we see is that at the different stages of monitoring, analysis, verification, response and so on, you always like interface for coordination.

     And it is especially true in the context of disinformation because many actors mention, and many speakers mention it in interdiction and even in the presentations there is so many groups to be involved in there.  We have the tech side, the private company side, we have the information like media side.  You have the decision makers because eventually the response, the pure operational response comes down to them and clarifying the information.  Official communique, you know, about like the real information comes down to them. 

     And there is like the population, the influencers, like all the actors who have actually an impact on the information environment.

     So multi-stakeholder and like respective mandate and capacity.  Not like CSOs doing fact checking doesn't have the responsibility to issue a statement.  Like it is not the only origin that needs to issue a statement.  You know, some actors need to take responsibility at the institutional level. 

     Then William highlighted the issue of politicians and institutions that are playing that game, but obviously our role is how to make it work with every institution playing its role. 

     So if I go quickly to examples.  For example now I'm in Burkina Faso since a month, and I'm only here to do like control support on the elections. 

     In our project of support, we didn't have much on disinformation.  We did support for training of journalists with UNESCO as well.  But we didn't have it as one of the main issue because this project started already two or three years ago and nobody, you know, really highlighted it at the time.

     But when we arrived here and worked on the prevention of violence aspect, we see the initiatives to monitor violence in the country.  But also see institutions and CSOs and the media regulation authority that do this monitoring of social media and do the monitoring of media in general.  So they monitor this information landscape. 

     But they are not at the table of coordination with all of the actors that work on the monitoring of violence and monitoring of risks of violence and tensions.

     And so they were not in the response coordination groups.  So we decided, for example, to include to add a seat to the table for those actors for this very simple fact of being present and sharing the analysis on a daily basis. 

     Because otherwise what they were planning to do is maybe issue some communique on their own, maybe issue a report at the end of the elections.  But they wouldn't have the chance of having an impact on on the moment, on the day, and inform the electoral community to say, okay, we have a rising tension or rising issues on this aspect of the information landscape, you need to clarify this because it's your mandate. 

     And it's the frustration also of some institutional actors that were sharing with us the fact that they don't know on a daily basis.  They know after the election that those things were identified at the moments.  But don't get the reports.  They may hear it in the media, but they don't receive it like institutional. 

     So that on a short-term basis, it's very practical thing like make sure that all of the actors involved in monitoring and fact checking have really interfaces with those institutional actors.

     So that is an example that we put in place in a very short time frame.  In the longer time frame, so we're thinking about this issue of coordination, right.  And, for example, in Zambia we are putting together a much more agile framework where we actually connect those actors.  So we're looking at the moment at what are the existing pieces of the puzzle like who is doing fact checking and monitoring.  How do we include monitoring of social media indicators or disinformation indicators in the classic monitoring frameworks so that those different pieces can speak the same language and at the same time?

     So that is a really -- like a really important element.  How do you insert disinformation criterias in assessment and methodologies?  So we are trying to install this framework and plan for this deployment in order to have structures, existing structures of monitoring and responding to violence that include the disinformation aspect of things.  Because it is violence and rising tension, obviously it is linked together.

     So again I spoke too much.  But the point of my presentation now was having agile channels of communication and coordination mechanisms at the national level.  And that is what we are trying to do for the next electoral projects we are involved in.  Thank you very much.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you, Mathilde. And now I would like to hear, William, about his experience in the last election in South Africa.  So please, William.

     >> WILLIAM BIRD: Thank you.  So I think one of the points to build on Mathilde is that combatting disinformation can't be the purview of one entity or one agency.  You can't expect the electoral management body to deal with it on their own, nor can you expect the social media platforms to deal with it on their own. 

     It's something that really does require a multi-stakeholder approach.  And that's kind of what helped us when we formed a platform called Real411 where the basic idea was we wanted to make sure that the public felt empowered to do something about disinformation. 

     And we also wanted to make sure that inasmuch as we respect the platform's ability to have their own kind of guidelines, et cetera, they need to also respect the fact that we exist in a constitutional democracy and all of our media in election have to abide by codes of conduct, as do our political parties  so everyone has to play by the same rules.

     The only exception to that before we started this was the social media platforms.  So everyone else had to adhere to similar principles about, you know, not inflaming violence, et cetera, not putting out false information.  But somehow the social media platforms weren't there. 

     So we built a platform called Real411.  It's a public complaint platform where people can submit instances on digital media that they believe to be disinformation.  That goes through a review process, there is an outcome.  And if the IEC at the time felt that that should be removed from one of the platforms, they could ask the platform to remove that.  And if they needed to, they could get the -- they could alert the authorities, being the police.  And in other cases, they could then also involve the court if necessary, the electoral courts. 

     So it's a system that occurs as a kind of a midway that operated in partnership, we did it with the Elections Commission, which is then also supported by the media themselves and by UNESCO, I should add, and a range of partners to make sure that they had some kind of mechanism.  And it also meant that all content was adjudicated according to similar principles that were balanced with the constitutional democracy and, of course, protecting and promoting freedom.

     >> MODERATOR: Thanks so much, William.

     And can I ask Souhaieb now your perspective about good practices.  And that might be interesting also to know for the participant relation also maybe, I don't know, with safety of journalist.  Because a reporter who is out working, the reporter is also working very much on this issue. 

     And this is an issue during the election that disinformation brings often attacks against journalists.  So but that is one of the aspects, but if you can answer about good practices.  But please don't take too much time because we are running a bit behind.

     >> SOUHAIEB KHAYATI: Okay.  Thank you, Mehdi.

     So since two years, we started working on a project dedicated to train journalists in North Africa on media coverage of electoral process. 

     We have to imagine that journalists in this area are not familiar yet with this kind of media coverage and have specific supporting needs including the tools for fact shaping and dealing with this information. 

     And this support was also made to take into account the necessity for journalists to familiarize themselves with the national participation of electoral processes. 

     We began with regional journalists, and the focus was set on journalistic ethics during election periods in order to avoid difficulties facing -- for example, during the last electoral coverage and attacks from the authorities against journalists and media outlets, using them for spreading fake news and disinformation.

     With American journalists, we worked on the need to deepen their knowledge and good practices that we ensure then to be able to cover Morocco press code in order to avoid being confronted with penal and criminal code.  Cases are -- we are not so many cases in Morocco related to these difficulties. 

     For Libyan journalists, you know, and with the crisis in Libya, they shared the experience on the 2011 and 2014 election coverage.  And they will respond to the needs in terms of support for the upcoming election.  We thought we have an election in 2019. 

     In Tunisia, last year it was an electoral year.  And we were facing elections in the state of urgency for the media.  So NSF, Reporters Without Borders was able to be active and to respond to the needs of media with a practical guide for media coverage of election in Tunisia.

     >> MODERATOR: Thanks, a lot, Souhaieb.  Now I would like to know from the perspective of Laura and the fact checking, of course.  Please go ahead.

     >> LAURA ZOMMER: I'm going to be short.  I'm really allied with what Mathilde and William said related to that we need more coordination and collaboration. 

     Our experience from the 2019 presidential election in Argentina, related to that, it was amazing and with really good impactful results that can be useful for others. 

     We launched a collaborative process that is called Reverso which we brought together more than 125 media from all around the country.  They were the biggest TV station in the country, but also perhaps the small radio station in a small town in the north and the south.  And we worked together during six months just focused on this electoral disinformation. 

     And that allowed us, as you can imagine, to respond quickly-er because we have people in the field to look for the data and the evidence and the info that we did much more quickly than if we were in the capital of the country trying to do that.

     And also allowed us to spread correct or evidence-based information through an enormous amount of media outlets and reach the widest possible audience that we can imagine before that partnership.

     And related to what Mathilde said related to that we need to work together not just fact checking on the side, publication for judicial system and others.  So one of the things that was really useful from to gather experience was that when we identified a lack of info in the field, we explained that or just noticed that to the authorities to invite them to produce or to publish or republish info related to that. 

     For example, if we find two content related to how people can vote or not in a province, we know that there is something perhaps not enough clear for the public that would make the people that work on the disinformation easier to create that content.

     And then we explain or we just, I don't know, put an alarm to the authorities saying perhaps there's a lack of context here, it is good if you take care of.  And that not just be an answer and a respond after we identified, but also a kind of this is a framed problem and perhaps you should take care of because they going to continue disinformation in that part of the -- I don't know -- discussion or so on.

     And also, we did really big collaboration during the pandemic crisis with different countries, 18 countries and 35 organizations in all of the Latin American region.  And that allowed us to quickly debunk. 

     For example, if a Colombian fact checker checked something that after it arrived to Mexico, the colleague in Mexico has just add a new source from the country but not start from zero all of the debunk. 

     And then adding of what Mathilde and William and all of the colleagues said, articulation or collaboration is one of the main points that can be the solution.

     >> MODERATOR: Thanks, Laura.  I would also -- I'm receiving a lot of message reminding me that I have to tell you for the participant that you can ask question to the speakers and I didn't do that enough. 

     So please, there is a Q&A in the Zoom.  There are already two questions, but please don't hesitate because we will open that to the speakers soon. 

     Now I would like to ask a question a little bit more -- it is really about the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic during election and in relation with disinformation.  And I would like to ask more specific question to UNDP, to Mathilde, to see how in your experience the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the electoral process, the very electoral process?  For instance, the increase of mail-in ballot voting but also digitalization of online voting and mobile voting.

     And does it -- did this increase the risk of disinformation during this process?  So maybe you could elaborate on that, please. 

     >> MATHILDE VOUGNY: Thank you very much, Mehdi.  So I think it is what everyone anticipated when like the COVID-19 really blew up in March. 

     We had a lot of elections -- we talk about election years, right, so we have years with a lot of elections and then we have years where we have much less. 

     And typically 2020 is very, very busier.  In practice, a lot of people were anticipating that polling will need to be completely different and countries will change strategies, we would a huge increase in i-voting and e-voting, et cetera, et cetera. 

     What we noticed in practice is that you had several cases.  You had countries that had elections in the immediate aftermath of or really at the beginning of the crisis.  So I'm thinking Mali, France also had some local elections.

     But if I take the example of Mali, for example, it was I think end of March.  There were already cases everywhere, and they just went ahead. 

     You know there were two -- when we see the situation now in Mali, we can wonder if that had any form of impact.  But they went ahead with like the classic methodology and classic operations and some COVID distancing measures, et cetera, et cetera. 

     Then you have a few countries that postponed the elections.  I think it was a mixed group.  You had countries that postponed because COVID was a good excuse to postpone because maybe the operations were not ready. 

     And in that sense, it was great in some countries for making the acceptance for postponing.  So that was a really good thing for some countries.  And some other countries really postponed genuinely because they didn't know how to handle the COVID-19 crisis. 

     So France postponed, for example, the local ones.  But Ethiopia also postponed their elections.  And I think operationally it was good for them at the moment it was set up in the middle of the rainy season.  And constitutionally speaking, they didn't have a basis to postpone them.  And COVID was the emergency case that allowed them to do this postponement. 

     So for those countries, like all of the ones that postponed, eventually what we see is that they are moving ahead with the election as planned.  The operations are going to move ahead as planned.  For example, in Burkina and Cote D'Ivoire they didn't postpone, they had elections scheduled now, but the crisis is kind of behind them, the lockdown is over and so they're moving ahead with elections as usual.  Maybe a bit more masks and disinfectants.  But the rallies are going like normal rallies at the moment. So they didn't translate into, you know, changing deeply the operations.

     Now we have the case of the U.S. where ballot voting was already in practice, but it increased.  And I think this is where we need to analyze the impact of COVID on electoral operations. 

     It is less about the fact that it deeply changed the way operations are happening.  It is more that it is -- it creates this new element, this strange element, this change in practice that allows for disinformation to emerge. 

     So in the U.S., for example, the simple fact of having the COVID, it's introducing this doubt in the mind of people.  They are not sure of how things will happen.  It's not like the last years, you know, we are not in the same world and how it was done all the time.  So they think that things might change, and this is where like actors who are planning and planting disinformation can activate their strategies.

     So in the U.S. I think there were like calling campaigns of people informing voters that maybe polling stations are closed and they need to vote somewhere else.  And so they managed to exclude a lot of voters with this. 

     But it is less about the purely operational aspect than by the cyber threats.  And it all again comes down to the trust you have in the institution.  So trusting the Electoral Commission is the number one factor of credible elections.

     And by, you know, challenging the information landscape on what is said because there is already a lot of debate on COVID, what's true, what's not.  You know, there was already a lot of doubts around this. 

     And introducing like elections in a COVID environment, you are adding this extra layer of complication in how information is transmitted and you are adding extra opportunities for people who need to plant disinformation and, you know, like disrupt the process operationally speaking. So I would maybe refrain like this, and I will stop here.  Thank you very much.

     >> MODERATOR: Thanks a lot, Mathilde.  Now actually I'm going to let my colleague Valdemar to handle the part with the questions from the participants, from the public.  Please, Valdemar.

     >> VALDEMAR CHRISTENSEN:  Yes.  Hello, thank you so much, Mehdi. 

     Thank you for the attendees that have raised questions in the Q&A box, which I have been following closely. 

     So I will just start with one of the questions and ask the panelists to help us in giving some answers to these. 

     So the first question is on if social media should be fact checked, would this then also extend to the comments on a post is the first question.  Anyone care to open?  Perhaps --

     >> LAURA ZOMMER: I can said what is happening today.  It is -- obviously, we are all the time taking into account that we want a robust public debate and electoral debate all the time and we have that in mind.

     And then in our case when some content is viral, we obviously pay attention about if it is a public figure or not doing that.  And when we are not sure about that, we can see where a public figure or a politician or a journalist or a celebrity that opened their own life in the social media, in some cases we blur the name of the author when we publish the debunk because really it is not necessary if we are not sure.  If that is a false or fake account or a real one, it is not necessarily good to show that name.

     But what it is important is to fact check the contents that it viral without paying attention if that appeared in a post, in an article, in a discussion format precedent or in a comment.  Because if the comment is making people, for example, during COVID pandemic make a treatment or a drug that is -- that can make harm to their health, it is important to fact check and to give the citizens for the public good data and not just leave it because it is in a comment and not in an article or a post. 

     I hope I was clear that at least that is our perspective when we approach the content.

     >> VALDEMAR CHRISTENSEN:  Thank you very much.  Any other panelists?  William, please go ahead.

     >> WILLIAM BIRD: I think in addition to that if you look at one of the things that disinformers do is hunt in a pack.  So there might be someone that would put out some initial kind of disinformation.  And then what you tend to find and certainly is the case of the work we have done is that you not only get disinformation, you get a link to other digital evils like hate speech and incitement.

     You might get someone pushing some kind of nonsense, and then you get a whole string of others just jumping on that same bandwagon.  So anyone then who goes out as a fact checker, as Laura has just pointed out, who puts out something that's accurate and credible, you'll suddenly get a whole bunch of people jumping on them and accusing them of all sorts of -- if it's a woman fact checker in particular, then they'll jump on her and accuse her of being sexually, you know, easy, and they'll insult her particularly on a gendered and misogynist basis so that they kind of distract from what the real issue is. 

     Any time you see someone putting out disinformation, you then see a pack of these other people that are not necessarily disinformation in and of themselves, they might just go and say oh, that Laura, you can't trust anything she says, she's a stooge of whatever and whatever.

     >> LAURA ZOMMER: Noisy discourse.

     >> WILLIAM BIRD: They make a lot of noise so you can't hear else.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you so much.

     >> LAURA ZOMMER: Just to take into account because we didn't discuss it is we didn't think that disinformation is always related to issues.

     On the contrary, what we see, in some cases it is satire pulled out of context or a real picture that is from the past or other country, then the disinformation phenomenon, it is not just a fact that you can catch it and convince the public that it is not in the way that is presented. 

     As William said, we have to pay attention to all of the whole of that type of campaign.

     >> VALDEMAR CHRISTENSEN:  Thank you, William and Laura.  Souhaieb or Mathilde, would you like to --

     >> MATHILDE VOUGNY: No, it's fine, I think William and Laura covered it.  Thank you.

     >> VALDEMAR CHRISTENSEN:  Let's move on to the next question a little bit in connection with this. 

     How will fact checkers affect people who make allegations against political candidates with no evidence is the next question.  Anyone care to answer that?

     >> LAURA ZOMMER: I can do it.

     >> VALDEMAR CHRISTENSEN:  Please go ahead.

     >> LAURA ZOMMER: I can start and they continue. 

     What we always said or repeat as fact checker is that it is hard to convince or to make people change mind when they are in the polls. 

     The people that are already really convinced and they are, I don't know, fighting for an issue or a cause, in some cases you show them clearly facts that are against their opinions or their beliefs and they are not necessarily going to change their mind.

     But -- and we know that, and we work with that.  But there are a lot of people that are not necessarily in that polls, they're in the middle, they are not necessarily pushing any agenda.  And in some cases, they are just surprised, or they are just affected because they saw a picture that made them be, I don't know, be angry or be happy and they share it. 

     And then we are focused on that middle people that are not necessarily the polls of the discussion of the issue.  But also I think it is good evidence for everyone, we are going to publish it, the document publicly in English and Spanish this months is that we made an independent research of the impact of our work last year during the electional period with Chicano and Reverso.  And the research was leaded by Professor Ernesto Calvo from Maryland University, and Natalia Huerte.  And what that research shows clearly with data and interview is that people don't necessarily change their mind, but they change their behavior.

     And when I'm saying that they change their behavior, they show with data that during the electoral period in Argentina when it was published that something is false the spread of the false content decreased.

     Because there were people that agree with that false content but decide not to reshare it because they prefer not to have the cost of being in the way of the liars or something like that. 

     And that shows a kind of small open window of perspective for the future work saying, okay, we are not trying and we are not going to change people's minds -- clearly not in the polls.  But if we have the chance when we publish fact checks quicker after some content is spread, if that make a lot of people not to share it, we are making, I think, an important contribution. 

     I'm not sure that we are going to change the people that are against the data of a candidate or a profile of a candidate, but what we are trying to do with our work is to allow people to be better informed and at least help people to the awareness not to be part in disinformation campaign without knowing it.

     >> MATHILDE VOUGNY: Maybe if I can build on what Laura just said. 

     I mean it is a very difficult question, and obviously regulating these kind of things -- like you don't want to repress too much like the public debate online either. 

     I guess to me, it also comes down to who is speaking and like what is the impact of this voice in the information landscape?

     Because as long as like the public, more the public and this middle category of people you mentioned, Laura, obviously you cannot do much.  You educate.  You fact check, you publicly fact check information, et cetera, et cetera. 

     But if it the voice is like the voice of another candidate, like a political candidate, the voice of an institutional president, for example, people who committed to some form of independence during the election at the national level but their voice is extremely strong and they have an extremely strong impact, then you need to go to what I think was mentioned, the ethical response to it like the code of ethics and those kind of things.  Usually they are not legally binding. 

     I have seen in some context you had some CSOs that were consistently, you know, pressuring candidates that were preaching the code of conduct and exploding them like blaming and shaming and that had a good impact despite a very difficult -- it was at Guinea this year.  I don't know if they did it in various previous election cycles.

     But it was quite good.  They were like reminding everyone this person signed this code of conduct and what he said is clearly breaching those articles, so we expect consequences of one form or another.

     So I guess you could also rely on those bases, but it is always difficult to activate those mechanisms.  But it is still one, one opportunity. Thank you.

     >> LAURA ZOMMER: Agree with that. 

     And just giving an example is that you are for sure the candidate that are in the middle and trying to create their legitimate about the truth, they are going to be perhaps much more open to follow that rules that the candidate, for example, Bolsanaro in Brazil, they don't even care. 

     I think that's the same problem that I found related to people that is really in the polls.  And then it depends a lot on the quality and the characteristics of the candidates if you can do more or less with fact checks or these type of sources, I think.

     >> VALDEMAR CHRISTENSEN:  Thank you, Laura, thank you, Mathilde, for some great answers. 

     In the interest of time, perhaps we will jump to the last question of the Q&A session here, but not a small one.  The question is should election disinformation in countries be tackled as a national or international/cross-border issue is the question from the audience.  Anyone care to -- William, please go ahead.

     >> WILLIAM BIRD: I mean I guess the answer is potentially both, right, which is to say to the extent that you may have foreign actors seeking to influence your elections in your country, then that is certainly an international issue and an issue of foreign interference in your elections process. 

     Also, we know that the bodies that we are dealing with here because there are massive multinational social media platforms, they necessarily are international. 

     And to the extent that I think you are dealing with bodies like UNESCO and others that are really trying to bring an international rights-based perspective to things, they automatically are kind of international. 

     So you want to have respect for the fact these are domestic processes and issues that impact your elections in your country, but at the same time, there is a very useful set of international rights-based principles around media freedom and understanding how to deal with these things. 

     And, of course, then there is the fact that they either might be foreign influence.  And/or is the fact that these platforms are, you know, are -- have -- are usually outside of the countries that the elections are taking place in. 

     So in South Africa, it is important that we have cognizance of the guidelines or standards that each of the social media platforms has, but that those are -- you know, we measure them against our constitutional principles and against those of our African, you know, principles on freedom of expression, et cetera, and those kinds of other useful African instruments. 

     I think you have got to have a combination of both of the approaches to how you deal with this.  And, of course, the reality is that you need again a multi-stakeholder approach to deal with these things.

     >> VALDEMAR CHRISTENSEN:  Thank you, William.  Any other panelists would like to elaborate on the question?

     >> MATHILDE VOUGNY: Maybe me for one minute because it's a very, very tricky one, and thanks for someone asking it. 

     I'm just putting on the table one of the trickiest example, you take Lebanon, for example.  Lebanon you need to really have political policies that are supported here and there by other like countries. And so you have like all of those interferences up and down the line both in terms of financing and it is just like all interrelated and come complicated the environment greatly.

     So I tend to agree with everything that William mentioned, but in practice I see like every time we are asked a question like what can you do, like what can we do to put it in place and mitigate this? 

     I have to admit that we have a lot of struggles.  We with work with the platforms like William mentioned.  Oftentimes for us it is really linked to the question of like campaign financing.  It is extenuating to that. 

     So we try to also work on that front because that is a real struggle.  So yeah, I would maybe add the campaign financing.  We are trying to work on that front as well because it is linked to receiving foreign funds and what fund is this and political advertisement online.  I just wanted to highlight this, campaign financing.

     >> LAURA ZOMMER: Just adding some perspective from the region from Latin America.  Making a kind of wrap-up of the last election in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. 

     The environment about who was behind these info campaigns, they were really different in one country and the other.  And in defense on what William and Mathilde said related to the context of the country. 

     In Mexico, for example, we can prove or the fact checkers, the colleagues from there can prove that there were companies working with parties creating that content. 

     In Brazil, some colleagues from FOIA and other newspapers and investigative reporters for the country can prove that one of the campaigns from Bolsanaro creates some of that content.

     In Argentina, they were not necessarily clearly making or participating in the campaigns.  And then what I'm saying is that it is not national or border perspective, it is all the time having your open mind, your mind open, sorry, and to have that what Mathilde said, the chance to be really flexible in the way you work, being flexible in your goal or your mission and your values; but be prepared to be flexible and quick to respond whatever you find it can be the most appropriate to find that group. 

     Because it depends on the election.  It depends on the candidates.  It depends on so, so many issues that I think there is not just one answer.  And in each electoral period perhaps it is useful when the people that are looking for the transparency during the elections to add a kind of report related to these info groups that were already put on scenario and that can help also other actors to find them with most success.

     >> MODERATOR: Well, thanks a lot to all the speakers, William, Laura, Mathilde, and Souhaieb.  And thanks a lot, Valdemar, for this session. 

     Now we have to wrap, to complete because we extended a little bit of time.  But I think it was very interesting honestly, this debate between you and the question from the participant.  I had another question that I'm just going to ask, nobody is going to answer; it's just a reflection for all of us.

     And my -- really my question I have, honestly, on the issue is that disinformation is so much driven, is so much based on emotion, on fear, on all of these very strong emotions.

     How can we tackle only with cold-based facts, you know, response?  I'm honestly a bit skeptical.  It does have an influence, I'm sure, for, you know, right-minded people maybe, but we are emotional people deeply.  So it is I think a huge challenge that is not always addressed.  This disinformation is based on storytelling, on emotion.  And we are sometimes, I feel fighting this with little arms or little capacities and are very intellectual sometimes and we --

     >> LAURA ZOMMER: Can we --

     >> MODERATOR: I just said the question.

     >> LAURA ZOMMER: Emotion to our evidence base.

     >> MODERATOR: I think it is needed.  But I will thank you, and hope to see you in real at another opportunity.  Really thanks a lot, all of you. 

 

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