"How to respond to disinformation while respecting free speech?" - @Commonlaw20 and I wrote submission for @Irenekhan’s UN work on disinformation, drawing on @risj_oxford research and other relevant work. Some key points in thread, full submission here reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/risj-review/ho… 1/N
There is (a) no conceptual clarity and (b) no substantial agreement on what exactly constitutes disinfo. This is not a philosophical point but defining feature of problems we face. It underlines inherently political nature of determining what does and does not constitute disinfo.
From the point of view of the public disinformation is to a large extent a problem associated with the behaviour of politicians and other domestic actors, especially on social media, and not more narrowly a problem of false information or actors with more unambiguously ill intent
We risk a situation where measures meant, at least nominally, to address very specific problems of narrowly defined types of disinformation, for political reasons or in response to much wider public concern, end up restricting much broader terrains of information
Limitations of necessarily imperfect technologies combined with the inherently political nature of decisions over what constitutes disinformation means there are serious practical and principled limitations to how useful artificial intelligence will be in dealing w/disinformation
There is a risk that some governments will pursue responses to disinformation that – irrespective of whether they in fact help address specific problems of narrowly defined types of disinformation – risk restricting free speech
Some governments are in different ways increasingly encouraging platform companies to undertake regulatory and police functions that are traditionally considered a matter of public law, sometimes in ways that can restrict free speech and inhibit independent news media
Functions are delegated to platforms by government regulation on the one hand and, on the other hand, platform companies sometimes seek to assume such functions, perhaps in part to reduce their liability and likelihood of more regulation
Research identifies number of practical responses to different kinds of disinformation that have been successful at reducing its effect directly or indirectly, reducing its spread, and increasing societal resilience to disinformation problems without infringing on free expression
Such interventions have a proven track record. Instead of restricting speech, they qualify it. Instead of limiting independent news media, they enable them. (E.g. countries with diverse and robust independent news media seem more resilient to disinformation.)
Governments can encourage implementation of such measures by mandating transparency reports documenting who does (and does not) engage in proven examples of good practice, and by providing direct and indirect funding support for independent fact-checking, media literacy, and news
Similarly, platform companies could implement and/or support such measures, & share data so that independent researchers could regularly assess and test the efficacy of different responses. They are part of the problems. They need to be part of solutions, on basis of human rights
It would be troubling if we moved from opaque unilateral and often unaccountable content moderation by private companies to opaque unilateral and often unaccountable content moderation by governments.

Let's not replace naiveté about platforms with naiveté about political actors.
We draw on @risj_oxford research and a few other of the many scholars, non-profits, rights orgs and others who do important work, including e.g @cward1e @alicetiara @andyguess @BrendanNyhan @robyncaplan @safiyanoble @gabriellelim @1lucabelli @EddaHumprecht @davidakaye & many more

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More from @rasmus_kleis

19 Feb
Group discussion w/ @risj_oxford journalist fellows on which discussions are contentious in their newsrooms around 🌍, kicking off from some US journalists feeling dominant viewpoint limits their ability to speak up

Partial list (deep breath) of issues people identify as hard...
..including things that are hard to cover & write about such as

* Religion, esp dominant religious group or historically maligned religious groups
* Migration and refugees, esp in face of majoritarian backlash
* National security, esp in countries where military is very powerful
* Women's rights, esp in very patriarchal societies (and often patriarchal newsrooms)
* Sexuality, esp LGBT
* Tribalism, esp when interconnected with electoral politics and/or political violence
* Civil war (well yes that and the legacy it leaves is hard)
* Regionalism/separatism
Read 5 tweets
18 Feb
What might it mean that Facebook has restricted publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing news content?

Some @risj_oxford research

First, 71% in Australia say they've used FB in the past week, 39% say they've engaged with news on FB digitalnewsreport.org

The 39% who have engaged with news on FB tend to be younger, women, more on the political left

Most access online news in many ways (direct,search,social,etc), but @dragz have run the numbers, and in 2020, 8% of 🇦🇺 internet news users say they ONLY get online news via social 2/9
That's maybe a million+ people? They can go elsewhere for news, but some won't. That's a big blow right there. As
we've shown, the effect of incidental exposure on e.g. Facebook is stronger for younger people and those with low interest in news.
journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/14… 3/9
Read 9 tweets
17 Feb
Major win for #metoo and speaking truth to power: Court finds "journalist Priya Ramani not guilty of criminal defamation in a case filed by former Union minister M.J. Akbar [noting] “right of reputation can’t be protected at the cost of right to dignity.”"
Here Priya Ramani's 2017 Vogue article (doesn't name Akbar) "To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world: “We’ll get you all one day.”"
Here @ghazalawahab article from 2018 on how Anbar sexually harassed and molested her m.thewire.in/article/media/…
Read 4 tweets
4 Feb
Keep getting calls from journalists and others about the draft Australian News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code so some points to add to the thread I posted last year. I'm glad there is political focus on future of news, but sceptical of draft code as is 1/23
Can policy help sustain independent news media? We know for a fact it can. Is it justified? That’s a political question. I personally believe it is in many cases. Journalism and news, with its many imperfections, is a public good and important for our democracy and societies 2/23
If one recognize that fact, and embrace the idea of policy intervention, are there then options we have reason to believe work? Nothing is perfect, and all this is political, but I think there on balance are, have written about them for years e.g here reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/what-can-be-do… 3/23
Read 23 tweets
11 Jan
On Trump & platforms: A decision can be welcome and still illustrate problematic situation

3 Qs. 1) Consistent enforcement? Companies are often wildly inconsistent in when, where, who they enforce against. Decisions+timing come off as at best arbitrary at worst opportunistic 1/N
E.g. Why now, and not before (outgoing and not sitting president)? Why in the US and not elsewhere (India, Philippines)? Why jihadists but not white domestic terrorists (I have a guess)? Why do they almost all do it at the same time (that’s PR, not rules)?
2) Protection of fundamental rights? In absence of real oversight, the companies are making these decisions unilaterally. Often they do too little. Sometimes they do too much. There is no meaningful due process, and no way to ensure companies practice e.g. Santa Clara Principles.
Read 9 tweets
4 Dec 20
The @EU_Commission published its proposed European Democracy Action Plan yesterday.

One observation: disinformation parts are very focused on foreign interference and largely avoids recognizing domestic actors, in particular fact that misinformation often comes from the top 1/4 Image
Foreign interference is one important form of disinformation. But it is not the most widespread or necessarily most consequential.

HLG report stressed domestic actors, including politicians, in several places ec.europa.eu/digital-single…
It is clear few will touch this problem
We can dance arounds this all we will, but problem remain real, in EU too. Some things are clearly false, harmful, and malign. But often, what one person sees as destructive lies, others will see as political speech. Powerful actors like to avoid recognizing this complication 3/4
Read 4 tweets

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