November 30, 2021 6:57 pm
Report: ‘Whole of society’ effort must fight misinformation

Report: ‘Whole of society’ effort must fight misinformation

Misinformation is jeopardizing efforts to solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges, be it climate change, COVID-19 or political polarization, according to a new report from the Aspen Institute that’s backed by prominent voices in media and cybersecurity.

Recommendations in the 80-page analysis, published Monday, call for new regulations on social media platforms; stronger, more consistent rules for misinformation “superspreaders” who amplify harmful falsehoods and new investments in authoritative journalism and organizations that teach critical thinking and media literacy.

This report is the result of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder. This 16-person panel includes experts on internet and misinformation as well as prominent figures like Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.

” “Hundreds of millions of people are paying the price for a world that is disordered and lies every day,” says the introduction to the report. It was written by three of the co-chairs of the commission: Rashad Robinson (president of Color of Change), Christopher Krebs (ex-White House cybersecurity official) and Katie Couric (journalist).

Specifically, the report calls for a national strategy for confronting misinformation, and urges lawmakers to consider laws that would make social media platforms more transparent and accountable — to officials, researchers and consumers. Another recommendation would remove some platforms’ legal immunity in relation to ads and lawsuits regarding platform features and designs. The report’s authors blame misinformation for a variety of factors, including social media’s rapid growth and decline in local journalism as well as a lack of trust in institutions.

Falsehoods are deadly. This is evident in conspiracy theories and false claims about COVID -19, and vaccines that have hampered efforts to stop the coronavirus. According to the report’s authors, misinformation is just as harmful when it comes down to faith in elections and efforts to combat climate change. Robinson, Couric and Krebs gave a briefing Monday on the report’s findings. They stressed that everyone in America has a part to play in combatting misinformation. This includes reviewing their sources of information, ensuring they don’t spread falsehoods and fighting the polarization which fuels misinformation.

” Making real changes will require everyone,” Robinson stated.

The Aspen Institute shared its findings with many social media platforms, including Facebook. On Monday, a message requesting a reply from the company was not returned. The Aspen Institute, a Washington-based non-partisan nonprofit, is Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the charity that created Craigslist, funded this report.


Klepper reported from Providence, R.I.