IGF 2022 Day 1 WS #214 Blurred lines between fact & fiction: Disinformation online

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Can everyone hear me?


>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I can hear, it's okay.


>> MODERATOR: Let's have a round of mic checks from the remote speakers.  Evangelia, see if we can hear you from the room.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Thank you for being there I hope you can hear me.  Can you hear me.


>> MODERATOR: Yes, loud and clear.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: I think we can start.  I just want to check if all the panelists, the speakers, the respective speakers are online.


Please allow me one minute to check.


>>  SOFIA:  They are.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: We are waiting for Maria.  I think we can start, and Maria Spyraki can join afterwards.  I will share my screen right now.  So that you can also see the presentation.  Thank you for participating today in our workshop about disinformation online.


My name is Evangelia Daskalaki, and I work for the Greek Safer Internet Centre, together with Sabrina Vorbau, project officer at the, European Schoolnet, David Wright from the, Deborah.  And Joakim from the German center and last put not least, of course, we would like to welcome you in our workshop, blurred lines between fact and fiction, disinformation online.


It gives me great pleasure to welcome also our respected speakers today.  Please allow me to briefly introduce our panelists for our workshop.  First, is Maria Spyraki, Maria is an awarded member of the European parliament of the year 2019 for industry, research and innovation.  She is now serving her second mandate in the European parliament with the European people's people.  As a member of the committees research energy and another committee environment, public health and food safety.  She is a Co‑Chair of the intergroup on climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development and vice‑chair of the delegation for relations for the People's Republic of China.  She holds a master’s degree in energy law, business relation and policy from international Hellenic Mediterranean.  She worked for 22 years as journalist from 2014 when she was elected a member of the European parliament.


Next Sergio Gomes da Silva, Director of International relations and communications at the general secretary of the council of ministers of Portugal.  Member of the board of project Center for Professional training for journalists, and member of executive board of communication observatory and member of the national electorate commission.  A graduate in law and advanced training and administration and senior management and fabric administration.


Then Rodrigo Nejm.  Awareness director at Safernet Brasil.  Federal University of Bahia and coordinator of the Brazilian safer internet day since 2009.


Samuel Rodrigues de Oliveira.  Master’s in law and innovation and attorney at law.


Last but certainly not least, our youngest panelist, representing the youth vote today, Marina Kopidaki.  The youth panel of the center and since then internet safety has been one of her main interests.  At international level, Marina has participated in various activities, such as youth panel, the internet for previous years.  The concept of disinformation refers to both miss leading information designed, presented and promoted intentionally to cause public harm.  She internet is a source for which people turn first if they need information on a specific topic, and the internet has provided unprecedented amount of information to huge numbers of people worldwide.  However, at the same time, false and contextualized information has also been disseminated over the internet.


The rise of digital platforms has made the people provide more direct access to content, and those have replaced professional journalism and editorial decisions with algorithms that prioritize click bait content to maximize engagement.


Everyone with a social media account can create and spread disinformation, from governments to companies, from interest groups, or even individuals.


Research suggests human users of online propaganda are not bots just consequently.  Online influencers, operations are extremely fuzzy.  As they largely depend on the broadcast of data from many private actors to reach the target audience.


Inaccurate and misleading and damaging impact on human rights, function.  At this point, I would like to open the floor to our panelists and asking them to ‑‑ Maria is writing the member of the ‑‑ member of the European parliament.


I think she has not joined yet.  But we can wait, we can go to our next panelist.  I would like to hear from our respective panelists, Sergio Gomes da Silva.  The Director of International relations, General Secretariat of the presidency.  I would love to hear your opinion about how disinformation undermines our democratic values.


  Sergio, can you hear us.


>> SERGIO GOMES DA SILVA: Yes, yes.  Greetings for all.  Well, disinformation can really harm people and can corrode the trust people have on institutions, and on Democracy.  Let me give you three practical examples of this.  In 2018, in the Brazilian elections, it is documented that WhatsApp played a very important role especially with WhatsApp groups.  By that time, 120 million of roughly 210 million Brazilians had WhatsApp accounts, roughly 2/3 of the voters were active users of WhatsApp, and there was a huge proliferation of fake news through WhatsApp groups.


And it is believed that this fake news, this fake messages, had an influence in the outcome of the elections, but it's not only in Democracy and democratic processes.  Even in real life, in the life of the people, this can have an impact.


For example, in India, in 2017 and 2018, there was a spate of mob‑related lynchings that originated in false messages that were circling through WhatsApp.  So people died because there was circling news that there were people going around small villages, kidnapping children and kidnapping people for organ harvesting.


There are also allegations that Facebook played a role in the violence against Ruyinga people in 2013 and 2017.  There was lots of disinformation about Ruyinga people doing all these horrible accusations about them.


There is this perception that is fueled violence against Ruyinga people.


So of course we could give other examples, often when we discuss these issues, the campaign in the United States of 2016 is the ‑‑ maybe the most quoted examples come from there.  But there are examples all over the world, how fake messages circling internet and especially in social networks, really plays a role in threats to people, to concrete people and also can interfere in democratic processes including the confidence, the trust that people have in institutions.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Thank you so much for all the examples that you gave us.  So 2018 Brazilian elections and 2017 India mob related messages as examples you gave are excellent examples of how it can threaten our democratic.  So for the one hand, we have disinformation, and the threat of force and from the other hand, we have had the fundamental right of free speech.  How do we balance those two.


>> SERGIO GOMES DA SILVA: That's a complex problem, as any complex problem, there are no simple solutions.  But not trying to oversimplify this issue we should put much effort into approaches, one is to support, foster journalistic media.  One powerful way of not giving so much ground to disinformation is to have journalistic information.  When I say journalistic information, I mean information that is produced by journalists according to their codes, to journalistic good practices.


And this is very important because what we are seeing in some of these places where disinformation really has an impact is that people aren't getting information mainly through social networks or through other online sources that are not journalistical sources.


Another approach that is very important to add to the support, to the fostering of journalistic media is to strongly invest in the development of media literacy skills within the population.  It is common people ‑‑ common people should have the knowledge and skills to do their own critical analysis of the information they receive.  We know many of the messages that misleads, easily distinguished ‑‑ easily identified as false, if people have some basic knowledge, and besides this knowledge, if they have this recurrent preoccupation of trying to understand if it's true or false.


Of course, not everything is so easy because we all know about deep fakes, so, the videos, the sounds that can really mislead even the ‑‑ the people that are most knowingly, the people that have more.  But if we ‑‑ if we really transmit these messages to everyone that receives the message, they should try before putting trust on it, they should try to verify it with trustful sources even more hard to identify, even there then, people are much more protected.  So empowering people should also be an approach and is a very powerful approach to protect, to prevent disinformation.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: From what I've noted down, the main factors, to ‑‑ and free speech, the first one is the media to get our information, to get the news from media but follow the rules of the journalists and literacy across the world has been identified as a critical factor explaining why ‑‑ thank you so much.


>> SERGIO GOMES DA SILVA: May I add something?  The most ‑‑ sometimes it is believed that the easiest way to prevent the spread of disinformation is to freedom of information.  Freedom of expression.  This would be the wrong approach, because if we restrict freedom of expression, if we restrict the freedom, the journalists to do their work, what we are doing is hampering the mechanisms to counter act this information.  So to this ‑‑ two complementary approaches I suggested, I would say that we should also be very aware that prohibition, restriction to freedom of expression, the freedom of the media would be counter effective to prevent and combat disinformation.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Yes, of course, because people would use ‑‑ yes, of course, thank you so merge, Sergio Gomes da Silva for your insight, they were very helpful.  So I would like to ask if Maria Spyraki has joined us, otherwise we can move on to our next panelist.  So I will move on to ‑‑ next panelist is ... I've lost my power ...


So I would like to go to the panelist Rodrigo Nejm, an awareness director for safe net Brazil.  Thank you for being here.  So from your experience, is the media literacy landscape equally well established in all the countries, and I'm going to ask another question.  If not, what is the plan of actions a country should take to create digital literal societies.


>> RICARDO NEJM: Yeah, it's a really big challenge, and yeah, just starting with some fast comments with Serbia speaking about Democracy.


We face it again in these elections, and with disinformation strategies, targeting especially the groups in Brazil, especially participants in the elections that will target again online with this process.  But also to highlight this important ‑‑ the importance of this challenge, of disinformation during the COVID pandemic and how many families had only WhatsApp information available for them and through WhatsApp, they received a lot of misinformation complete about the health issues and all this, wrong message that can really, really change the lives and do harm.


So that's to say the challenge about literacy is really big in Brazil because even ‑‑ a great internet, use for almost 93 percent of Brazilian children are online somehow but this action is really different, and this difference should be considered when you think about media.  We have a lot of children in Brazil, families that only have access to the internet from cell phones, from mobile phones, and in general, they are limited in access, the broadband is really low, but also they have limited on data and again, WhatsApp is a bot farm.  Three different telecom companies, for example, allows this free access for WhatsApp, and, again, WhatsApp become the main source of information for many, many families, and even for many children that only have this channel to access information, as Sergio said, good information, the professional information created by journalists, and we ‑‑ strong source of information are not always available for them to WhatsApp.  That's to say, media literacy is really key for us, but also we have to understand this diversity of internet access and also to understand like Brazil and many other on the table and ‑‑ we don't have the ‑‑ communities that can read, communities that can write.  These communities are using somehow internet and this kind of messaging platforms to inform and receive information.  For example, only by audio files.


How can we create policies in countries like Brazil, that have more than 100 million internet users, and they are totally illiterate, not only ‑‑ we have to think these kinds of problems that use different language to make this different approach to media literacy happen in Brazil.  It's not only checking information, it's not only giving good ‑‑ from the ministers of ‑‑ but how they can really access this good content and the counter speech of this kind of misinformation.


So we are trying to do that in Brazil, the safer net center, we are having Brazil have good laws and guidelines at the national level to improve literacy, to talk about disinformation in schools, the national guidelines for national education have good guidelines, we have also the Brazilian bill of rights for internet that has great approach for all these issues, but the big challenge is how we implement media literacy education in scale in countries like Brazil and many other countries have a big internet population.


So this scale issue is really key for us, that's why safer net is a technical nonprofit organization.  I try to create ‑‑ we create a new curriculum last year to share with both the schools and make it easy for teachers because teachers themselves are facing the same challenges to understand how to face all this misinformation you can say that our everyday are arriving in many different platforms.


So this multistakeholder approach, the multistrategy approach.  It's not only schools, we have to work with the platforms in each country, because it's not only a translation question, to translate the United States approach for the media literacy that works well in the United States, it's not the same, it's not only translating good materials, and good tools, but understanding the context, the local context to make it happen.  For example, just to make a short example.  How do you explain to people how to use this ‑‑ misinformation report, for example, how to report what happens after this report.  Can I be a target because we have local militias in my neighborhood?


This kind of basic information people ‑‑ how can we work in this different process to have not only schools, media literacy approach, training teachers to have the opportunity to educate children, but also to work with ‑‑ the Supreme Court for electoral process to working with this misinformation group response to think about how to scale the different packages at the same time, that is much bound on the education.  And just to conclude, we are working and have good results for this moment with new participation programs, we have new creators that are creating this kind of misinformation.  We have a strong problem here, big problem here, how misinformation and all this hate speech are connected.  And we are ‑‑ it's really sad to say we are starting to have in Brazil, for example, mass shooting in schools.  Almost all cases are related to hate speech and misinformation groups that are targeting, for example, LGBTQ community in Brazil.


It's hard to see how this high level questions of Democracy and misinformation are being translated in behaviors from 11, 12 years old teenagers, shooting people in schools, and using the same discourse, the same narrative that we see on this big misinformation strategies around elections and other hate speech groups.  So this is really hard, and it brings out our work to face ‑‑ not only formal response, not only formal education response, not only federal or ‑‑ it's how can we engage participants and users to say, in your community, in your world, how we can face together this misinformation, because we need this different generations approach to face this problem, and also to conclude, we have seen that it's directly connected, all this misinformation, not only with corrupting Democracy, but also the impact on mental health, especially in teenagers also, but also in activists.


Sometimes they are leaving the activism, leaving the work somehow, and ‑‑ persons are leaving the elections process and giving up just because they are target of so hard attacks of misinformation and hate speech together, and this mental health issue related to misinformation, it's really important, not only for these target groups, but also for everyone, because we know that there are a lot of psychology Ms. Information strategies and all these emotional effects that misinformation provoke that even the good information to check information, and the correct speech information, it's not enough as information only to give back all the sensation, the emotional aspects and emotional ethics that can be really, really strong provoked by misinformation.


Just only one information is not enough to take back all this feeling of the participating in the diversity community and participating in some groups.  All these emotional and mental health aspects are really key for us to make it happen as media literacy education in our approach, not only schools, but including other factors and other stakeholders.  Yeah, this is how we are trying to face that with the curriculum, the participation in your creators, it's not safer, and have really, really good results, but the challenge how to scale these interventions, how to scale this good content and how to scale these education materials that you have that are good education materials, but they are competing as a priority with our educational system, for example, some schools don't have.




>> RICARDO NEJM: Kind of competing priorities is trying to scale media literacy and misinformation in Brazil nowadays.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Thank you so much, Rodrigo for this input and the insights you give.  They were really intense and very important.  It's very difficult for countries with millions to raise awareness about digital literacy.  I can't imagine how difficult this is for Brazil and the scale of the country, it's very big.


So this is a huge project that has to be done because media literacy is the key point to many things that are ‑‑ for safety and security online.  Thank you so much.  Since you mentioned youth panel of safer net Brazil.  I would like to go to the next panelist, who is our youngest panelist, Marina Kopidaki, thank you for representing youth today.  You are the voice of youth on this panel.  Thank you so much.  It's always very important to also hear from the youth, because they view things differently than us.  We think that we can think like a young person, but we cannot, that is the truth.  I'm really curious, Marina, if all this discussion you have heard today, on this panelist have spoken and shared their insight, has it ever been ‑‑ disinformation, has it ever been in the discussion of your peers?  Is it something young people are discussing or are interested in.


>> MARINA KOPIDAKI: From my personal experience in interacting with people my age, I can say that disinformation is not really a hot topic among us.


While there are some cases in which disinformation has come up, but that's always after disinformation is like revealed or something we have heard is not true, actually.  So that's the only way disinformation can come to the conversation.  For us here.


Well, I want to say something now about disinformation, and how it undermines our democratic principles.  Obviously disinformation undermines our principles, undermines the principles, but I don't think that this is something that youth can understand I've been here and working with the great safer Internet Center for Five years, it is something I have understood, this is how it goes, I don't think many people of my age, or my colleague do understand that.  How important this is I think that we are very vulnerable to disinformation.  Maybe due to our lack of experience as young people we don't know how to protect from that.  Disinformation can be everywhere from the news to an influencer with hidden advertisement or anything.  So it can be everywhere, we can recognize that.  There are many cases in which I've tried to make people understand how that works, but it's not very easy to understand.


So that's why I think education and safer internet education is very important, actually.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Thank you so much, Marina.  From what you say, I can understand that we have to come ‑‑ we have to present young people disinformation in a different way why than we do it right now because we are not delivering the message about saying, you know what?  This disinformation ‑‑ when something is misleading or not true or false, thank you so much for this information, and ‑‑


So young people do not care ‑‑ get the threats of democratic violence as the panelists also have shared with us.  Given their input.


How about digital literacy, how is it done in agrees, do you believe that Greece, your country, is a country which provides digital literacy in the school curriculum maybe or provides children and young people with all the awareness material they need in order to be informed correctly.


>> MARINA KOPIDAKI: Well, what I can say about my country is that up until recently, media literacy education was pretty much ‑‑ didn't exist in Greece.  Well, lately, the Greek educational system has done something that allows digital literacy to come into the schools, and the students.


How that works is that although Greek schools doesn't have such a course as digital literacy, it is one of the most important stuff children have to learn because they use technology and the social media into their daily lives.


So how to function in such an environment is extremely important.


Well, just recently, in 2022, I think, it was integrated into the education system, flexible education zone, in which educators can select from material from various topics, all of them are ‑‑ are approved by the initiative for educational policy and mainstream education, and there is a large pool of things that can be covered and taught to young people.


Well, our Greek Safer Internet Centre contributed to this pool of educational resources, a series of handbooks which are accompanied by ‑‑ well, that promotes values such easy safety on the internet.  Proper online behavior, online friendships, protection of excessive views, online gaming, and depending on the age, well, for older students, there is material which focuses on hate speech, and maybe for younger students, in migrant schools, there is a protection of data and all the basic things.


To promote this material to the Greek educational community, a lot of campaigning was done by us to educate teachers on these materials.  This material is now used extensively to educate students in digital literacy, aiming to develop responsible digital citizens, still the material is not incorporated in the mandatory curriculum, and this is definitely one of our main objectives, but I think that in general, Safer Internet Centres in Europe have a crucial role to play in ‑‑ to play in social media digital literacy, and they have to boost digital literacy education.  Well, with the assistance of the personnel for safer internet center, educators have to be trained and subsequently, multipliers to educate their own students.


However, this should be done systematically, I think, and to be incorporated in the mandatory curriculum, and for all students, it should be mandatory, starting from a very young age, interaction with social media and the internet, a very young age at this point.  Well, specific focus topics of interest should be integrated into the curriculum for each educational level and should be very, very carefully selected by the minister of education, both the minister of education and the Safer Internet Centres.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Thank you so much, Marina, thank you for your input and for your valuable information.  You said something that is very important, mandatory curriculum in the schools about digital literacy.  This is a lot of steps have been taken, but one more step to take is to incorporate the mandatory in the schools, digital literacy.


Moving on, we would like to go to our last panelist, Samuel Oliveira.  How do we tackle the problems in terms of legislation?  Can you please give us your input.


>>  SAMUEL OLIVEIRA:  Can you hear me.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: I think you have a small presentation to share.




>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Do you have rights.


>>  SAMUEL OLIVEIRA:  Is it working?  Yes.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Yes, it's working perfectly.


>>  SAMUEL OLIVEIRA:  I'm going to address how policy makers cycle the problem of the information specifically in Brazil.  We have a few steps to go from here, I'll try to stick to my ten minutes, I'll be brief.  Just an overview, just some comments regarding a few pieces of legislation and some initiatives of our electoral court.


In Brazil, we have law, 12.965/2014, which is known as the civil rights framework for the internet, which was sanctioned in 2014.


It establishes principles guarantees the rights for the internet use in Brazil.  The global discussions regarding content moderation are reflected in section 3.  That deals with liability for user generated content online, and the law differentiates between content providers and application providers.  It enables the terminal to send and receive data over the internet, it cannot be held liable for damage arising from a user generated content.


The second one, the other group involves service that offer functionalities that can be through a terminal connected internet, such as social networks, in this case, they can be held liable if they fail to comply with a specific alert.  In addition the platforms are authorized to moderate content according to their own interests and rules, or according to the terms of use.


And also according to its very own text, this law aims at guaranteeing free speech and prevents censorship, showing preference given to the manifestation of ideas online.


In practice, it means that companies are not obliged to check and stop content to be posted.  It has inspiration on the U.S. model.  And however, we have two exceptions here, when it comes to copyrights and disclosure of material with nudity and private sexual practices.  In this case, as we have a notice takedown model usually applied.  Meaning an excerpt, an option ‑‑ it is on provider in case of compliance.  The law does not address the sharing of misinformation or fake news.  Also important topic, Constitutionality of its Article 19, which defines the model of application providers being analyzed by the Brazilian supreme federal court which has the instruction, the debate on the regulation of online platforms, in the context of combating misinformation, hate speech and other forms of online content.


It's interesting to notice in 2021, last year, the Federal Government tried to enact the provisional measure, 1068, which significantly admitted the internet bill of rights, providing social networks can only suspend or block user content if they fit one of the things defined in a small list.  Nudity, terror itch and pedophilia.  This provisional measure did not include the sharing of false information or hate speech in general, as causes for the removal of content online.


So if platforms wanted to delete these types of posts, this type of content, they would have to request it in court, they could not apply the terms of use to this.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: I see.  This is a big problem, I guess, if they cannot ‑‑ they cannot take it down.


>>  SAMUEL OLIVEIRA:  Yes, that was the intention, and this provisional measure, it was proposed by our soon to be ex‑president Bolsonaro.  Which explains the reasons and the type of content moderation model that was proposed.


But luckily ‑‑ well, again, to reverse the logic of content moderation, it was deemed sort of unconstitutional, and also illegal due to the civil rights framework for the internet.


So only a week after its publication, this provisional measure was rejected by decisions of the President of the Senate, and also by the Supreme Court of Brazil.  Luckily.  This year due to this lack of legislation that addresses the matter of disinformation online, there has been significant role of our electoral court or superior electoral court, that was ‑‑ that works for guaranteeing all of the fairness of the elections in Brazil.


So specifically about fake news, disinformation, hate speech online, our electoral courts signed agreements with the main social networks in the country, in Brazil to reduce the dissemination of disinformation with resources that could contribute to democratic processes.


Also the court has been responsible for determining the removal of several pieces of content online, targeting mainly those about the credibility of the ballot boxes and electronic voting process in Brazil.


And the removal of such content follows the provisions of the court's resolution in 23.714 that provides for the tackling of disinformation that affects the integrity of the electoral processes.


Here in this, you can access this resolution in Portuguese, unfortunately, but you can maybe use Google translator or maybe ask me later.  If you need any help with this resolution.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Okay, we will do that.


>>  SAMUEL OLIVEIRA:  This resolution prohibits the dissemination or sharing of known untrue or seriously decontextualized facts that impact the integrity of the electoral process, including the process of voting, counting and totalization of votes.  In these cases the court can determine the immediate removal of the content under penalty of about $20,000 per hour of noncompliance.  This rule starts counting only as the end of the second hour of receiving the notification.


In addition, this resolution provides that after college decision establishes removal of online content, the court itself can determine the extension of this decision regarding all identical content that is found online.


And also this resolution has the suspension of social media accounts if there is a systematic disinformation online.


So following this resolution in November of this year, following the Brazilian elections, several profiles of YouTubers and also Brazilian politicians have been suspended on YouTube, and other social media.


Although these actions may seem unreasonable for some people or for some countries and even to some extent undemocratic, today were deemed completely necessary this year because considering only the first round of elections this year in Brazil, there has been a 1,671 percent increase in the volume of disinformation complaints forwarded to the court compared to election 2020.


There was the need for 130 new clarifications and denials about cases of disinformation regarding the correctness of the electoral process.  And episodes of political violence via social media increased by 436 percent compared to 2018, four years ago.


Well, anyway, the way that the Supreme Court has directed its final efforts in the fight against fake news, has divided some legal practitioners and academics in Brazil, but we have ‑‑ we have kind of a unanimous conclusion that we do need to make all these definitions by due legislative process.  We have to have legislation that addresses all these issues.  So in this sense, we have our bill 2630 of 2020, known as the fake news bill.  That institutes the Brazilian law, freedom responsibility and transparency on the internet.  Intended to establish standards, guidelines and mechanisms of transparency for providers of social networks, search engines and instant messaging services over the internet, as well as guidelines for their use.


You can access this bill by the QR code.  It is largely inspired on the European debate, focusing on obligations.


It was already discussed in the chamber of deputies in Brazil and final text is ready to be discussed in the Senate.  So all we can do now is open that this legislation be approved or not and then deepen the debates regarding how policy‑makers can address the problem of disinformation in Brazil.  Thank you.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Thank you so much.  DSA, you are referring to the digital service act of Europe and indeed, it has been ‑‑ thank you so much.


Very desirable know it was unanimously conclusion that legislation is needed indeed.


Now I am keen to open the floor to the participants, both from onsite and also online and to give them the space to ‑‑ let me share my screen, the space to express their thoughts about this matter, but also to give their insights on the following questions.


Can you hear us from the room, from Addis Ababa?  We cannot hear you.


>> MODERATOR: Let's try again.  Can you hear us?  It's working.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Joel, I'm keen to open the floor to all the participants.  I would like to ask with your help, of course, your valuable help, and thank you for being there today.  So I would like to ask the participants both that are physically onsite in the room, but also who are online right now, so how is the media literacy landscape established in their country.  We want to know what ‑‑ we would also like to hear about the practices from your country, and what action points do you think should be followed by the respective stakeholders from public and private sector?


Maybe somebody would like to join the conversation onsite?


And I would like to also see maybe the room, if that is possible, for the organizational team.  The group in the room.





>> MODERATOR: Could we change the view of the recording so we can see the room and also the remote participants.  I'm opening the floor right away.  I don't know if you have some points to introduce.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: If they could share with us the practices from their country and how they tackle disinformation online, and maybe action points that they think should be followed by the respective stakeholders from the public and private sector to tackle disinformation online.  I also shared my screen, can you see the questions that I just posed on your screen.


>> MODERATOR: We can see it in the room, yeah.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Great.  I don't know if there is online ‑‑ online participation, somebody online would like to join the conversation.  And maybe share their thoughts.


>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: We have two participations from the floor.  From the left, please introduce yourself and go ahead.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: We cannot hear you, I'm sorry, Jao.


>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you, my name is Rachel, from Kenya.  Representing the international association of women in radio and television.


Very keen on the subject of disinformation, especially fact and fiction.  And want to thank all the presenters for the insight from the different countries.  What I just noted and what I comment on is that disinformation, even from the presentations, seems to go hand in hand with election period most of the time.  For them, it is a tool that a lot of the politicians use.


In Kenya, we have seen a lot of disinformation, misinformation and malinformation increase during the election period.  And when you talk about media literacy, then, of course, it's limited to the media practitioners, but I think what we have seen happening increasingly is that the internet or the social media platforms are becoming a big source of information for the journalists, for the media practitioners, you can't wish it away.  How do we ensure that you get the right information to share with the public.


So what I've been clear, we have come up with a fact to ensure the media practitioners or journalists are trained on digital literacy and especially issues of data journalism, and continuously having their skills enhanced, currently we have fact checking tools that the journalists will use to know whether the information they are using from the social media platforms is fake or if it's information that can be embedded in the ‑‑ in their stories.  This has been helpful because I think with advent of social media, a lot of citizen journalism and a lot of trust was eroded from the media, but slowly I think media has gotten the trust of the public because there's too much disinformation on the social media platforms that now the public has to fall back, even when they see something, especially during election earring time, fall back to credible news, journalistic outlets that then confirm that news is  ‑‑ is propaganda or is disinformation.


So I think issues of coming up with fact checking tools has been very, very important.


Then, of course, a lot of quacks that will also get ‑‑ I can give an example of just the elections just ended elections in Kenya in August this year.


One of the jokes by one of the ‑‑ the social media operators of one politician says you don't need a lot of money, they used the platform very well to make sure there was enough disinformation or propaganda to derail the whole process and have their candidate through.


So I think what I would say is important to have digital literacy for the journalists and to draw a very big line between journalism and social media operatives so that, you know, we cut down on disinformation because disinformation is very bad.  Misinformation can be very ‑‑ is not intentional, but still goes out there.  Then there's a lot of information on the internet, you know, malinformation that people do not even know what to pick and not to pick.


I think investing in training, digital literacy training for journalists is important, thank you.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Indeed, thank you so much, Rachel, for the information about Kenya you mentioned media practitioners are getting ‑‑ how about young people, children, does Kenya have a strategy about raising awareness about media literacy soft online and in schools.


Is there a strategy there, do you have maybe NGOs raising awareness.


>>  RACHEL:  Kenya has taken a deliberate step to ensure digital literacy is taught in school right from the primary, entry grade of the schools, because of the importance of what the internet is and how the trends are in terms of where we are moving.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Thank you so much, Rachel.  I think you said there was another person from onsite that would like to make a comment.


>> MODERATOR: Exactly, I'm opening the floor also to a speaker on site.  So please introduce yourself and share your thoughts.  Thank you.


>> MODERATOR: Thank you, I'm a professor for law, science and technology, Munich, in Germany and I really enjoyed the talks, I think there was a broad consensus on the importance but also on initiatives, on social media literacy.  However, we also found the problem is still here.  So I'm asking myself, what could be the next step and with which measures can we actually pair this social media literacy in order to make sense because you feel the frame we are operating in that users and citizens are still kind of victims of ‑‑ specifically of misinformation, and cannot actively kind of change the services or do something, but they kind of have to be exposed to social media to misinformation and therefore I would like to draw your attention to one aspect of the aforementioned digital services act, in which platform providers were forced to adapt their recommended systems in a way without personalization.


I think this is a very interesting way to go because if I can ‑‑ if I can manage my own recommended system, if I can somehow change that, I can use my literacy actually to tweak the information in a way that the information reaches me that I'm really interested in.  Before this big breakup on Twitter, they had an idea, project blue sky, an app store for algorithms.  This would be just one example of my general question, how can we change this scenario in which the users and citizens are, in fact, victims and we just saw well, we teach you how to distinguish right from wrong, but we still accept that you are exposed to a lot of misinformation.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Thank you so much, Christian, for your input.  It was really important.


I just noted down about the project blue sky, the app store for algorithms, just wanting to make clear what kind of algorithms are provided for this project.


>>  CHRISTIAN:  So Jack Dorsey funded this project.  The idea was that people who are on social media could kind of pick their own algorithms that would shape their experience online.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Okay.  So that's why you mentioned the recommender system ‑‑  they could pick the recommendation, the platform would make.  That is very interesting.  So yes, what you mentioned is exactly okay, we have realized that there is a problem, we have informed people that the ‑‑ they should be liberated from ‑‑ they should know about media literacy and how to recognize fake news, disinformation and misinformation, but disinformation and misinformation is still there.


So what can we do?  Would any of our panelists like to give an answer to Christian?




>> SERGIO GOMES DA SILVA: May I say something.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Yes, of course.


>> SERGIO GOMES DA SILVA: I would like to ‑‑ two observations, one regarding journalists and digital skills.


I think this is very important, technology is becoming more and more sophisticated, artificial intelligence is already there, and it will increase its sophistication, and it's very important to help journalists to deal with this ‑‑ all these new challenges.  So I think this issue about digital skills of journalists is a really important thing.  It has to do with economical sustainability of media.


We know that the way news nowadays are distributed, is very tough to make sure that everything is correct, everything is fact checked, because we all ‑‑ already got used to receive notifications on our SmartPhones, our expectation as consumers is to receive a notification whenever something relevant happens, and this is a huge challenge for the media to correspond to this expectation.  And also to have all the resources to do it.


Of course, technology is also a way of helping media to face the challenges, but this is very expensive.  So I think that needs to be tackled as this mechanical system sustainability of media.


Another thing that is  ‑‑ about this idea of appropriating people from being confronted with disinformation.  Preventing disinformation or misinformation to reach people I think in abstract, of course this is a good idea.  In the real world, I don't think this would ever work.  In the real world, very often is quite hard to distinguish.  What is disinformation, what is not disinformation and what we see in some parts of the world is that the regimes, some political regimes, use the excuse of fighting disinformation and misinformation and malinformation, has a way to prevent a free discussion, of preventing the scrutiny of their power.


So I think we should be very careful with the approaches we follow.  Let me use this metaphor of saying we should be careful not to throw the baby away with the water in the bath.  And this is very easy to do that's why I think that more than developed systems that will prevent disinformation to reach people, it's better to give people the resources to distinguish what is disinformation, what is false, from what is true.


As I said, I think journalistic information and media literacy are some of the most powerful approaches to do it.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Thank you so much.  This intervention, Sergio, was just very important, and the example you were saying was very illustrative.  Thank you.


So we also have ‑‑ from the chat, Lenin from Internet Society ambassador saying it can be overemphasized, teaching people to authenticate news will be the biggest win in disinformation.  They are easily discredited from publishing, and running searches, it will be much more effective if we successfully target them with different approaches.  In the long term countries should consider digital.  Thank you very much for this input.


I think that there is one more pants pant who would like to intervene.  The floor is yours.


>> MODERATOR: Yes, I'm opening the floor.  Go ahead, introduce yourself.


>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you, I'm from London internet exchange.  And the last speaker, finally, moved on to an aspect of the issue that I think we should have in mind, which is a certain caution about assuming we always know what is true.  And the dangers of taking an overly suppressive approach to material that is labeled as misinformation or disinformation.


Now, there are different kinds of misinformation and disinformation, and done with different motives.  Some is just simply wild things that are put out there as click bait for essentially a commercial purpose, to hope that someone clicks on the page that generates a few advertising cents.


And that is possibly the easiest to recognize.  In some ways, it's the least damaging, although what could be said is completely wild.


In some ways, it's the least problematic.  However, colleagues here have mentioned.  Misinformation, disinformation very often comes up in areas of high level political and policy, and particularly in election seasons, not only that.  But there's nothing new about one set of politicians saying that what the other set of politicians are saying is not true.  And that all ‑‑ even if it is true, it's selective and misrepresenting the issue, quite the opposite of what is being said.  This is the very stuff of political debate.  It is very easy to label one's opponents as engaging in misinformation and disinformation.  So to suppress change, political opposition and so forth.  You can't even necessarily rely on high quality journalism for this because journalists themselves can be very much political actors or very much engaged in the political discourse.  Sometimes this varies more than others and oftentimes when it's an electoral contest.  It's easy to identify a certain media outlets might be supportive.  The current opposition party, and it's relatively easy to identify that imbalance that's not always quite so obvious.  For example, in the recent pandemic, there was some very clear public health messages given out by national and international public health institutions, mainly ‑‑ often geared around the vital importance of pursuing particular strategies aimed at ‑‑ lockdown, and messages around social distancing, so on and so forth, criticisms of those narratives were very differently abled from across the political perspective, as misinformation, and vigorously suppressed.  And yet as the pandemic progressed and we learned from that matters, the officially endorsed and favored narratives on those issues.  The recommendations changed, and the opinions changed.  That's not necessarily even a criticism of the public authorities on that.  They learned things as time went on.


Nonetheless, I do worry about how the suppression of challenges to the initial starting point may have retarded that learning process and led public authorities to make and maintain ‑‑ maintain in policies they later came to regret.


So I tend to think that an open public discourse on matters of controversies very much to be cherished as leading ‑‑ nothing without its ‑‑ having its problems, but generally leading to the good as compared to an environment that seeks to identify the correct and suppress that which is not correct.  I think that can be highly dangerous not only from a human rights perspective, but from a good public policy outcomes perspective.


So I would really recommend that we focus our concerns about misinformation and disinformation on supporting and equipping people to examine the material that they get from all causes, including reputable journalistic ones, critically and on the basis of challenge from ‑‑ weighing different sources of information.


You may think this is some ‑‑ that I'm truly optimistic, I place too much Faith in the populace and maybe the experts should decide things for ourselves, but I have maybe a little more Faith in the idea of Democracy and freedom of expression as leading to a positive outcome, no matter the costs along the way.  Thank you.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Thank you very much for this input.  Indeed, what you said, but I also what Sergio Gomes da Silva mentioned, suppressing is not the correct way to ‑‑ I agree totally with your opinion.  So supporting an equipping people is the answer to it, and that is what we try to do also.


Thank you so much.  I think we have Nicholas Lenin and I believe ‑‑ wants to contribute to the conversation, and this is the last one because we have to close our session.  Can you open your microphone.


>>  NICHOLAS:  Thank you very much.  I just quickly wanted to highlight a point that the immediate past speaker made on the inherent biases on some of the traditional journalist institutions.


I think that it is widely informed by the country's structure.  I'll give you a practical example.  In Ghana, for instance, for some reason there used to be only one state broadcaster.  When the media landscape was opened up, political parties bought a lot of the media houses and created a lot of them.  So the media landscape is hugely polarized politically.


So in that sense, relying on the traditional media houses to verify information becomes a problem, because they sometimes are enablers of some of the propaganda or disinformation that people fall prey to.


Bottom line becomes, as I said, unit of the human himself becomes the best judge of what should be true or not, even though in more developed democracies with more pluralistic landscape, the journalist may provide better insights into the authenticity of the information.  Thank you.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Thank you so much.  We need more pluralistic media landscape.  That is very correct.  Thank you so much.


So I would like to go on and to invite Sabrina ‑‑ thank our organizer for the organizer of the workshop, to talk about Sabrina, can you hear us.


>> SABRINA VORBAU: Thank you for this very great conversation, very fundamental conversation, and it's so great that we have so many participants from different parts of this world around to really share what is the situation within their country, their local needs, local challenges, because this is so important to take into account when trying to globally in a multistakeholder, I would like the occasion at the end of this workshop to make everyone aware about safer internet day, an annual campaign celebrated once per year in February, we are aware every day should be a safer internet day, as with every international celebration, on the 7th of February, next year, we are celebrating safer internet day again, it's a global campaign that is taking place in more than 40 countries and many more around this world.  We invite you all to join this celebration, to mark this day, to raise awareness for a safer and a better internet and also to raise awareness about the resources you are producing and the work you're doing at the national level.  When it comes to tackling disinformation, but many, many other challenges we are facing when being online.  So please feel invited to visit our website, safer internet day.org to see what is happening in regard to the celebration within your country and how you can contribute.  Thank you very much for joining today and I give the final words to Evangelia Daskalaki.


>> EVANGELIA DASKALAKI: Thank you very much.  I would like to close, I will give the floor to Sofia to close the session.  I would like to thank the panelists for sharing their thoughts, being here today for this valuable conversation that we had and for the inputs.  Of course, thank you, Jao for facilitating the conversations from onsite, and I wish you have a pleasant stay in Addis Ababa.  Sofia, the floor is yours.


>>  SOFIA:  Thank you.  We have heard the opinions of our speakers and parts pants and as a closing ‑‑ participants and as closing remarks, I would like to stress out some points, key lessons and recommendations for the future.  Sergio Gomes da Silva gave some examples to demonstrate how a fake message circulating in internet and in private groups can interfere in democratic process.  Regarding the balance between disinformation and the right to free speech, Sergio pointed out the support to journalist media as a way to avoid giving grounds to disinformation, meaning to support good practices as the journalistic.


Another aspect pointed out was the investment that should be made in media literacy skills in population as a way of empowering them through a critical analysis of the information they received.  Meaning the instruments that can help them to distinguish information and misinformation and empower their decisions.


Rodrigo Nejm stressed out how WhatsApp can be the only channel to access information for some part of the population in Brazil.  Media literacy is a key point, but in Brazil, it has to be said that literacy is not ensured, so how can they go further to media literacy.


Brazil is good guidelines at the national level, but about media literacy, a great approach, but the big challenge is how to scale these guidelines to the population.


It was pointed out how youth participation is raising awareness about hate speech, all the disinformation is having impact in the democratic process and impact in mental health of activists and young people regarding emotional effects that disinformation provoke.


, tackled the problem and presented the civil rights framework that includes content regarding hate speech and disinformation online.  It was also revealed the resolution that tackles information that attacks the process.  As an example, it was revealed that following this resolution, after this year elections, some YouTube accounts were taken down.  Brazil is discussing legislation that addresses all these issues and they hope that this legislation will soon be approved.


Marina the youth representative recognized disinformation is not a hot topic among youth.  Nevertheless, she mentioned that disinformation undermines democratic principles, it is something that for young people is not easy to understand.  Although she recognizes how important this is.


Youth are very vulnerable to disinformation that can be everywhere, from advertise advertising to news.  But it is not easy to understand in how to support it.  That's why marina advocates for the importance of safer internet education.


Marina also gave the example of the Greek education system where it is more flexible and there is a pool of themes that can be taught.  Teachers and students can assess books and manual about some of the online safe topics aiming to develop digital citizenship.


Although it is not mandatory, it is already a step ahead.  Marina also underlined the importance of the Safer Internet Centre in tackling these issues.


Let me end by expressing my gratitude to all the speakers that gave us their perspective on how to balance the threats of disinformation with the right to free speech and how online information can undermine our democratic values, on how policy makers and the industry tackle this problem and last but not least, the example of the actions countries are taking.  Again, I want to thank you all for having been here with us and I wish you all a pleasant IGF full of useful discussions, gathering food for thoughts for the next steps to be taken towards resilient internet for shared sustainable and common future.  Thank you so much.