With the development of contemporary social technology we are witnessing a new phenomenon: information pollution at a global scale. Its direct and indirect impacts are difficult to quantify, but long-term implications of dis-information campaigns are most worrying.
The session will explore the potential of a wide range of stake-holders to address information disorder from within their respective roles, as well as through joint projects and other forms of cooperation. The participants will be invited to discuss possible remedies that could be introduced by national governments, internet intermediaries, media organisations and civil society, and to reflect on the effects of such remedies.
Special attention will be paid to initiatives fostering quality journalism and trust in the media, as well as strengthening relations between citizens and their national / own language media, which are indispensible elements for any endeavours to combat mis- and dis-information.
As a background resource, the debate will build on the Council of Europe report on “Information Disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policy making” (*) which is an attempt to comprehensively examine information disorder, its related challenges, and to outline ways to address information pollution. The European Broadcasters Union will also present their related work.
Council of Europe
European Broadcasting Union
- Rasmus Nielsen, Director, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism / Professor of Political Communication, University of Oxford - moderator
- Tanja Kerševan Smokvina, Associate Partner, Wagner-Hatfield / expert, Committee of experts on human rights dimensions of automated data processing and different forms of artificial intelligence (MSI-AUT), Council of Europe
- Giacomo Mazzone, Head of Institutional Relations, European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
- Olaf Steenfadt, Project Director, Journalism Trust Initiative - Reporters Without Borders / expert, EU High Level Group (HLEG) on fake news and online disinformation
Peter Kimpian, Council of Europe
- Session Type: Open Forum
- Title: Information disorder: exploring stakeholders' remedial potential
- Date & Time: 12 November 2018, 09:00-10:00
- Organizer(s): Council of Europe, European Broadcasters Union
- Chair/Moderator: Rasmus Nielsen, Director, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism / Professor of Political Communication, University of Oxford
- Rapporteur/Notetaker: Elena Dodonova, Council of Europe
- List of speakers and their institutional affiliations:
- Ms Tanja Kerševan Smokvina, Associate Partner, Wagner-Hatfield / expert, Committee of experts on human rights dimensions of automated data processing and different forms of artificial intelligence (MSI-AUT), Council of Europe
- Mr Giacomo Mazzone, Head of Institutional Relations, European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
- Mr Olaf Steenfadt, Project Director, Journalism Trust Initiative representative / Reporters Without Borders
- Theme: Media&Content
- Subtheme: Fake news
- Please state no more than three key messages of the discussion:
- Information disorder is a characteristic feature of the environment we currently live in, and everyone is responsible. Every stakeholder group has a role to play in addressing information disorder. For efforts taken to this end to be effective, it is crucially important to develop and enhance synergies and cooperation initiatives.
- Independent, empirical research is absolutely necessary to inform state policies and other stakeholders’ responses to information pollution. Those engaged in research must have access to all relevant data for analytical purposes, be it data in the possession of states or internet intermediaries, and including deleted data.
- Quality journalism and traditional media have a role of key importance to play in addressing information disorder, which requires a healthy media landscape. Reinstating trust in the media by securing its independence and sustainability, as well as strengthening relations between citizens and their national / own language media are indispensible for any endeavours to combat mis- and dis-information.
- If there were presentations during the session, please provide a 1-paragraph summary for each presentation:
- Mr Rasmus Nielsen, moderator, opened the session with an overview of the current state of research on information disorder, mentioning also the Council of Europe report on “Information Disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policy making”. This report offers a new conceptual framework for examining information disorder and provides recommendations for different stakeholders, as well as a round-up of related practical initiatives. The moderator further drew attention of the audience to the importance of taking into account the context (social, other), since it makes a difference in terms of possible risks, as well as in terms of possible solutions. Lastly, he stressed the role of independent journalism in addressing information disorder.
- Ms Tanja Kerševan Smokvina observed that information pollution not only undermines traditional media, but also creates an environment conducive to terrorism and radicalization. She highlighted that measures addressing this issue must be proportionate, as otherwise the risk of creating censorship machines is too high. She further referred to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers Recommendation on the roles and responsibilities of internet intermediaries which distinguishes respective obligations and responsibilities of states and of private sector companies based on the human rights and rule of law-based approach. The speaker stressed that all stakeholders have a role to play in addressing information disorder. In particular, academic research is of great importance for informing policy-making, as well as the public debate in general. Currently a lack of targeted research, e.g. regarding the effects of different narratives, as well as regarding the impact of information disorder in general, can be observed. Lastly, she observed that the majority of initiatives in place are one-stakeholder initiatives and stressed the need for developing synergies to effectively address the complex phenomenon of information disorder.
- Mr Giacomo Mazzone presented the work of the EBU in developing tools for quality journalism in the digital world applicable to the public service broadcasting world. (1) Eurovision Social Newswire email@example.com - 453 journalists from 28 countries, not only in Europe but also in the US, Japan and Algeria. The biggest collective network of UGC verification; (2) Eurovision Social Newswire - The Journalist's Toolbox. A toolkit for making verification with digital tools available on the web; (3) The Quality Journalism Initiative: a) report “Perfect Storm: The multiple challenges facing public service news and why tackling them is vital for democracy” and b) seminars at all members’ newsrooms; (4) Participation in the work of the Council of Europe expert groups on algorithms (MSI-AUT) and on quality journalism (MSI-JOQ), and in the EU High Level Group on Fake news and in the Sounding board that will watch on outcomes from the work of this group; (5) EBU’s work on safety of journalists with UN, UNESCO, HRC, IFJ, INSI, RWB. He observed that the problem of information disorder cannot be solved solely by ‘making good journalists’, that journalism today requires skills that are traditionally not part of the profession, and also that self-regulation by social media platforms has no measurable criteria of efficiency.
- Mr Olaf Steenfadt in his intervention provided an even closer look at quality journalism, and ways of reinstating trust in the media, while also highlighting the economic dimension of sustainability. He presented the ‘Journalism Trust Initiative’ (JTI) which is designed to combat disinformation online and promotes journalism by adherence to an agreed set of trust and transparency standards to be developed and implemented. He further highlighted that production and distribution of information today is twofold – through traditional channels where codes of conduct and ethical codes are in place, and through algorithmic distribution. The JTI aims at connecting the two by feeding ethical norms of journalism into algorithmic distribution of journalist content. Lastly, Mr Steenfadt highlighted the benefits of this initiative not only for media outlets, but also for advertisers in terms of protection of reputation of the brand.
- Please describe the discussions that took place during the workshop session (3 paragraphs):
The discussions first focused on the role of civil society in addressing information disorder. Within their respective role, civil society organisations could bring important concerns to the attention of governments, raise awareness and educate people about the risks of information disorder, and also act as honest brokers bringing together different players in the fight against information disorder. The Council of Europe in different formats (expert committees, conferences, other) engages with civil society organisations and works on fostering dialogue among different stqkeholders.
The debate further touched upon the role of the judiciary, mentioning a case of harassment of a journalist by trolls, on which a conditional sentence was rendered in Finland. Also the session discussed the need for international consensus, and criteria upon which the media can be trusted, - mentioning, alongside with the JTI, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers Recommendation on protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors, and Recommendation on media pluralism and transparency of media ownership.
Lastly, the session looked at wider implications of information disorder, including those for free speech, arriving at a conclusion that multi-stakeholder responses will be required.
- Please describe any Participant suggestions regarding the way forward/ potential next steps / key takeaways (3 paragraphs):
- The session has discussed the respective roles of different stakeholders in addressing information disorder and effectively demonstrated that one-stakeholder responses have a very limited potential as compared to co-operation initiatives and synergies;
- The role of academic research in informing the debate on information disorder, and also the role of the judiciary in providing targeted responses in cases of online harassment of journalists, was highlighted;
- There was broad consensus in that independent and quality journalism plays a key role in addressing information disorder. At the same time, the session clearly demonstrated that this role can only be fulfilled in a healthy landscape, including its economic dimesion.
- Estimate the overall number of the participants present at the session:
The session gathered approximately 60 participants.
- Estimate the overall number of women present at the session:
Approximately 20 participants were women.
- To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women’s empowerment? If the session addressed issues related to gender equality and/or women’s empowerment, please provide a brief summary of the discussion:
The session did not directly address issues related to gender equality and/or women’s empowerment.