Working group on infodemics

Design a policy framework
The infodemic accompanying the Covid-19 pandemic shows the necessity, if any proof were needed, of guarantees for freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to reliable information, in the digital world.

The Forum on Information and Democracy launches its inaugural working group. The Forum asks experts, academics and jurists all over the world to define a policy framework (set of recommendations) to respond to the infodemics through four structural challenges.

Call for contributions

The call for contributions concerns four main topics: meta regulation of content moderation, platforms’ design and reliability of information, rules for messaging systems exploiting the possibilities of the online public domain, and the transparency of structuring platforms with regard to their business models and algorithmic choices.

The contributions will enable the working group’s rapporteurs team to draw up recommendations for governments and digital platforms. This team is led by Delphine Halgand, Executive Director of The Signals Network and former Director of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in North America.

This call for contributions is open until 30 September 2020. The names of those whose contributions are used will appear in the final report, if they so wish.

You can send your contribution to contributions@informationdemocracy.org.

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is co-chaired by Maria Ressa and Marietje Schaake.

Maria Ressa

Journalist, CEO of the investigation website Rappler in the Philippines. Time magazine Person of the Year in 2018. Member of the Commission on Information and Democracy.

Marietje Schaake

Former member of the European Parliament (2009 – 2019). Currently international policy director of the Stanford Cyber Policy Center and president of the Cyber Peace Institute.

Sinan Aral

David Austin Professor of Management, Marketing, IT and Data Science at MIT, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) and a founding partner at Manifest Capital.

Julia Cagé

Author of bestselling books about democracy and media. Professor of Economics at Sciences Po and co-director of LIEPP “Evaluation of Democracy” Research Group.

Ronald Deibert

Professor of Political Science and Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto. Co-founder and principal investigator of the OpenNet Initiative and Information Warfare Monitor projects.

Camille François

Chief Innovation Officer at Graphika, leads the company’s work to detect and mitigate disinformation, media manipulation and harassment. Previously the Principal Researcher at Jigsaw.

David Kaye

United Nations special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. Clinical professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law.

Roukaya Kasenally

CEO of the African Media Initiative. Associate Professor in Media and Political Systems at the University of Mauritius. Chair Board of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa.

Edison Lanza

Lawyer, special rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Directed and founded several non-governmental organizations which defend the right to freedom of expression.

Roger McNamee

Author of Zucked: waking up the Facebook catastrophe and tech venture capitalist. Founding partner of Elevation Partners. Co-founder of Silver Lake Partners and head of the T. Rowe Price Science and Technology Fund. Former investor in Facebook.

Jun Murai

Distinguished Professor, Keio University. Co-Director, Keio University Cyber Civilization Research Center. Founder of the Japan University UNIX Network (JUNET) and the WIDE project. Known as the “father of the Internet in Japan”.

Peter Pomerantsev

Journalist, author and TV producer. Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of Global Affairs at the London School of Economics. Senior Fellow at the Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University. Specialises on propaganda and media development.

Julie Posetti

Global Director of Research at the International Center for Journalists. Previously, Senior Research Fellow and lead of the Journalism Innovation Project at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Anya Schiffrin

Former journalist, director of the Technology, Media, and Communications specialization at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and lecturer at the School of International and Public Affairs.

Vivian Schiller

Executive director of Aspen Digital program at the Aspen Institute. Former President and CEO of NPR and founding head of the Civil Foundation. Board member of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) USA.

Wolfgang Schulz

Director of the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. Lecturer within the field of information and communication at the law faculty of the University of Hamburg. Member of the directorate of the Hans-Bredow Institut.

Christopher Wylie

Data scientist and the whistleblower who reported Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. Listed in TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World and Forbes’ 30 Under 30. Author of bestselling book Mindf*ck: inside Cambridge Analytica’s plot to break the world.

Scope

Chapter 1

Meta regulation of content moderation

To evolve from content regulation to meta regulation (regulation of the corporate actors that dictate the moderation rules), we need to develop a set of principles that platforms and social media will have to accept, in accordance with international standards of freedom of opinion and expression.

Chapter 2

Platforms’ design and reliability of information

The pandemic has demonstrated the need to reverse the amplification of sensational content and rumour by promoting reliable news and information in a structural manner. Based on established criteria, mechanisms and policies to promote the authenticity, reliability and findability of content are to be determined.

Chapter 3

Mixed private and public spaces on private messaging systems

The virality of fake news shared on messaging apps is reinforced by the use of groups that sometimes have thousands of members. It is important to define minimal rules for messaging apps that exploit the possibilities of the online public domain while complying with international standards on freedom of opinion and expression.

Chapter 4

Transparency of digital platforms

Access to the qualitative and quantitative data of the leading digital platforms and access to their algorithms is a prerequisite for evaluating them. Transparency requirements must therefore be imposed on the platforms in order to be able to determine whether they are respecting their responsibilities in the aforementioned areas and, in general, with regard to their business models and algorithmic choices.

Timeline

  • June: launch of the working group on infodemics
  • July: constitution of the Steering Committee and publication of the call for contributions
  • July – August: processing of the contributions
  • September – October: drafting of the recommendations
  • November: presentation of the set of recommendations