Tackling Disinformation in an Open Society

Full Fact - The UK’s independent factchecking charity - has published a 36 page PDF paper on how to tackle disinformation and fake news:

A Full Fact Paper: Tackling Disinformation in an Open Society [PDF]

How to respond to misinformation and disinformation when the cure risks being worse than the disease.

This paper sets out a framework for a risk-based and proportionate response to the problems of misinformation and disinformation in the UK. The realistic goal is not to eliminate misinformation and disinformation, but is to build resilience against it.

For background information you can read the Guardian opinion piece This lawless world of online political ads is anti-democratic, where the paper is presented. Some excerpts from the article:

"The authorities’ inability to evaluate online electoral advertising shows that transparency rules are sorely needed. […] New media, especially Facebook, Google and Twitter, are increasingly important as hosts, enablers and beneficiaries of political messaging, paid and unpaid. For old and new media, conflicts of interest are inherent in the mixed roles."

“[Legislators] have a duty to the public to maintain a system capable of delivering free and fair elections. A growing number of credible voices are asking whether electoral systems are any longer fit for purpose, and so far there appears to be little appetite among most of the strongest media and political players for the delicate inquiry and reform that technology and experience seem to demand if election outcomes are to retain public confidence.”

“The paper mentions a leaked Facebook study that found that Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign ran 5.9m [!!] different versions of ads, rapidly testing them and spreading those that generated the most Facebook engagement. The Hillary Clinton campaign ran 66,000 different kinds of ads.” (emphasis mine)

“Drily observing that humans cannot evaluate 5.9m unique variations of ads, Full Fact concludes that if electoral advertising transparency is to be held accountable it must: be provided in real time; fully disclose its content, targeting, reach and spend; and be in a form that machines can read.”

Source: The Guardian, Oct 8 2018