Enough is enough
From the virtual walkouts of its employees to Chan Zuckerberg Initiative beneficiaries penning an open letter, many stakeholders have been angry lately over Facebook’s stance on moderating harmful content. Last Monday, the tech giant faced fresh backlash as the Stop Hate for Profit initiative gained traction, which has seen many international brands pull away from advertising on Facebook to protest the platform’s hands-off approach to mis/disinformation and hate speech. Online advertising is huge money for Facebook: last year, the platform generated $69.7 billion from advertising. Therefore, it perhaps unsurprising that Facebook changed course on Friday with CEO Mark Zuckerberg announcing that the platform would now label harmful content. It remains to be seen how this policy will look like in action and whether it will stem the widespread criticism.
Striving for more platform accountability
As the EU seeks to outline clearer responsibilities for online platforms through the forthcoming Digital Services Act, across the globe, Australia’s communications and media regulator ACMA is also striving to instill accountability for online platforms. Its newly released position paper advocates for the creation of a voluntary Code of Practice for online platforms to curb mis/disinformation online — a model with a strong likeness to the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation. The US is also pursuing closer efforts to update Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, especially since the US president’s executive order aimed at limiting the legal protection offered to online platforms. Yet the debate is characterised by division over how exactly Section 230 should be reworked.
Tech vs. Disinfo
- For a few hours last Friday, every tweet mentioning “frequency” or “oxygen” was mistakenly labelled as misinformation by Twitter’s algorithm, highlighting just how difficult it can be to moderate content online.
- Google’s product team announced last week that it will begin fact-checking Google Images around the world.
- TikTok has detailed how it recommends videos to users in a new blog post. Interestingly, this comes at the moment of CIGI pondering over why TikTok doesn’t get the attention of policymakers.
- A new Coda Story piece looks into how K-pop fans suppressed antagonism towards the Black Lives Matter movement by targeting far-right conversations and hashtags such as #whitelivesmatter with a tsunami of videos and GIFs to wipe out far-right campaigns before they could gain traction.
- Trust, Religion, and Politics: Coronavirus Misinformation in Iran – This study looks into the prevalence of COVID-19 misinformation in Iran, revealing that lack of public trust in officials, religiously charged narratives by unofficial fringe figures, and political manipulation of the discourse around the virus, are the three main drivers.
- Click Here For Outrage: Disinformation in the European Parliamentary Elections 2019 – Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s new report details their findings of disinformation activities during the 2019 EU elections. It discusses the tactics and actors involved in disinformation campaigns, the targets of their activities, and what that might mean for the future of disinformation around elections.
- A new study has found that a digital media literacy intervention increases discernment between mainstream and false news in the United States and India. The researchers argue that “a simple, scalable media literacy intervention can decrease the perceived accuracy of false news content”.
Events and Announcements
- 30 June to 3 July @ Forum Europe – DSA Virtual Sessions.
- 2 July, 17:30 CEST @ First Draft webinar – Reporting on coronavirus: How to use WhatsApp to find communities and stories.
- 8 July, 18:00 CEST @ Center for Data Innovation webinar – Can algorithms tackle the infodemic?
- 9 July, 19:00 CEST @ Wilson Center webcast – How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict.
- 9 July, 19:00 CEST @ Carnegie Endowment’s Partnership for Countering Influence Operations event – Understanding Information Operations with Twitter Data Launch Event.
- Stiftung Neue Verantwortung is hiring a Data Scientist to work on technology, politics, and society.