Reflections on the infodemic’s management
ERGA has released an executive summary of its assessment of the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation where it stresses the need for a co-regulatory approach, harmonised definitions and standards for actions, and a specific legal act on disinformation. This comes at the moment where lessons on how to manage an infodemic are currently being learnt. Last Thursday, representatives from the online platforms were questioned by the UK parliament’s Sub-Committee on Online Harms and Disinformation on their action in reducing the spread of COVID-19 disinformation. On the whole, the platforms were criticised for their lack of clarity and transparency, especially when it came to content moderation. The New York Times details how Trump’s recent disinfectant talk trips up the platforms’ commitments to fighting COVID-19 disinformation.
The EU’s High Representative faces questions
The High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell was questioned by the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee last Thursday after the European External Action Service had reportedly bowed to pressure from Chinese diplomats to modify a report written by its EUvsDisinfo unit. According to several sources, an earlier, internal version of the report had been much more critical in tone towards China. The High Representative rejected accusations that the original report had been watered down. The report in question is part of a special series that analyses COVID-19 foreign influence campaigns in Europe.
Conspiracies & Impact
In light of the COVID-19 conspiracies, Hope not Hate seeks to understand the drivers of conspiracy theory belief in its new report. The organisation polled British society to assess their relationship with conspiracy theories, their trust in the media and public institutions, and their attitudes to political participation. Among its findings, 45% of the respondents believe that COVID-19 is a man-made creation. In the impact section of our Coronavirus Resource Hub, we detail the impact of conspiracy theories on societies across the world. In case you missed it, we recently released our blog-post on conspiracy theory trends in Italy, France, and Spain, and found that old narratives are adapted to suit current events.
- In an environment where authoritative and accurate content is crucial to managing the infodemic, doctors have surprisingly risen to become social media influencers, albeit with some unintended consequences.
- BBC News gives us something to think about in a new article that attempts to classify the different actors who start and spread viral COVID-19 misinformation. Actors range from the “joker,” and “politician,” to the “scammer”. A handy thread summarising the article can be found here.
- Full Fact has released a report focusing on tackling the causes and effects of bad information. Based on evidence collected over the last ten years, Full Fact identifies the barriers that prevent accurate information from reaching individuals, with the aim of stimulating change. There’s a special thematic focus on COVID-19, too.
- Identifying patterns to prevent the spread of misinformation during epidemics – Looking at patterns of public health misinformation observed during epidemics, the authors group misinformation into four distinct categories and argue that by developing tools, algorithms, and resources around such categories, we can limit and counter the spread of misinformation.
Events and Announcements
- Data Journalism has released a new edition of its Verification Handbook for Disinformation and Media Manipulation.
- On 14 April, Memo98 and the Slovak media regulator held a webinar on COVID-19 related disinformation on social media. A summary of it can be found here.
- Call for policy proposals for Carnegie Endowment’s Partnership for Countering Influence Operations.
- Call for papers on the topic of “food-related mis/disinformation and Covid19” for the edited book Food Security and Sustainability: The Role of Media in Linking Awareness, Knowledge and Action edited by Dr. Marta Antonelli (Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change, CMCC) and Pierangelo Isernia (University of Siena) to be published by Elsevier in mid-2021. If interested, please get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org
- 6 May, 15:00 CEST @ GLOBSEC webinar – Election integrity (not only) during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- 7 May, 17:30 PT @ Protocol, sf.citi, and sea.citi webinar – The Race to Respond: Tech’s leadership on COVID-19.
- 12 May, 14:00 BST @ BritainThinks and Doteveryone research launch event – People, Power and Technology: The 2020 Digital Attitudes Report.
- Reuters Institute is hiring a Senior Research Fellow for its Trust in News Project.