How to Stop Infodemics During the Covid-19 Epidemic

Forum on Information and Democracy
Forum on Information and Democracy

As false or manipulated information continues to proliferate online during the Covid-19 epidemic, the Forum on Information and Democracy has published a report entitled How to end infodemics.

Based on more than 100 contributions from international experts, the report – released on November 12 – offers 250 recommendations on how to rein in a phenomenon that threatens democracies and human rights, including the right to health.

“Democracy is under threat and the lack of trust or outright manipulation increasingly has an information component,” explains Marietje Schaake, co-chair of the steering committee. “Governance of our digital world must be wrestled back from private companies and authoritarian states alike if democracy is to survive. Democratic leaders must take their responsibility to preserve democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms now.”

Launched in 2019 by 11 non-governmental organizations and research centers, the Forum on Information and Democracy created a working group on infodemics in June to devise a “regulatory framework” to respond to the information chaos on online platforms and social media.

After five months of work, this group, whose steering committee is co-chaired by Maria Ressa and Marietje Schaake, has published a detailed report with recommendations for governments and digital platforms.

The report, written by a team of rapporteurs led by Delphine Halgand-Mishra, identifies four structural challenges and proposes concrete solutions for each of them:

– platform transparency

– content moderation

– promotion of reliable news and information

– private messaging services

Many countries that are members of the Alliance for Multilateralism expressed their support when the Forum’s president, Christophe Deloire, gave a presentation about the working group to nearly 50 foreign ministers during an Alliance meeting on 26 June.

The meeting was also attended by World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay.

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Rakesh Raman