Tackling Online Disinformation: A European Approach

Sep 26 2018

At the NGIForum 2018, Prof. Jamal Shahin (VUB and GIPO) led this discussion on tackling online disinformation.

Prof. Shahin represented the weight of the disinformation crisis by citing an example of how some kids believed that Titanic was burnt upon watching an Youtube video. In the wake of this, Prof. Shahin presented some illuminating statistics, only 2% of children have the critical literacy skills they need to tell if a news story is real or fake, half of teachers (53.5%) believe that the national curriculum does not equip children with the literacy skills they need to identify fake news. Two broad questions to handle this issue were raised - What critical skills do we need to have to overcome disinformation? and what tools do we need to overcome disinformation in the NGI?.

A number of challenges related to tackling online disinformation were presented - Skills (digital literacy); how to reach out into the Public sphere and the news media ecosystem; tools, techniques and algorithms required for overcoming disinformation; and where does the liability or responsibilty lies.

Prof. Shahin also involved the audience of NGIForum in an interesting poll about how to face online disinformation. A number of answers were recorded from the participants on the following possible solutions:

• Through self-regulation (5.2 /10);
• Through support to quality journalism (7.7 /10);
• Through regulation (5.0 /10);
• Through education (8.7 /10);
• Non-intervention – the marketplace of ideas will deal with it (2.8 /10).

Human Values, Challenges, Solutions, Initiatives, Gaps and R&I needs related to Tackling online disinformation are listed below.

The following Human Values were identified in relation to this topic
  • V1. Authenticity
  • V2. Authoritative
  • V3. Diversity
  • V4. Transparency
  • V5. Trustworthiness
The following Challenges were identified in relation to these Human values
  • C1. We are living in a world of sensationalism and negativity [V1, V2, V4, V3]
  • C2. Advertising does not equal content trustworthiness (e.g. google a product and you may find a review that is a hidden advertisement disguised a review) [V1, V2, V4, V5]
  • C3. Creation of needs is still largely based on or driven by large entities [V3, V5]
  • C4. Authority of the platform [V1, V2, V5]
  • C5. Information overload [V3]
  • C6. Open / Democratised Algorithms [V3, V4]
The participants identified a number of Potential Solutions to address the challenges
  • S1. Reputation meter for ranking information [C1, C4, C6]
  • S2. Control (at certain times) [C6]
A number of known initiatives / projects were identified addressing the solutions
  • I1. Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO)
  • I2. Fact-checking organisations [S1]
Identified Gaps
  • G1. Education [C1]
  • G2. Integration between technology and human intervention [S1, S2]
  • G3. Means of control [S2]
R&I Needs to fill the gaps
  • R1. Supervisor (AI supported) [I2]
  • R2. Who is addressing the human / social effect

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2 comments on "Tackling Online Disinformation: A European Approach"

  • Daveed Benjamin's picture

    It is very important to ask the tech titans to do more... and I don't think they are going to be vert effective at dealing with the problem. One of their big problems is they make it very easy for people to create bogus accounts so they can be flooded by disinformation from virtually anonymous sources. At the moment, they are overwhelmed but the volume of inappropriate content posted to their services and inadequately equipped to discern disinformation, which is much more challenging to deal with than simply inappropriate content. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8514697/facebook-moderators-drugs-sex-ptsd... A completely different approach is needed. Let's see if they are up to it.

    answered 16 Mar 2019 01:36