Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Searching for a Stronghold in the Fight Against Disinformation

Molly McKew, Center for International Governance Innovation: “Social media giants are under intense scrutiny for — at best — turning a blind eye to the proliferation of information operations on their platforms and — at worst — knowingly profiteering from and facilitating the use of their platforms for these kinds of campaigns. As a result, a number of social media companies are implementing voluntary measures to show they can self-police before the 2018 US mid-term elections. Facebook, Twitter and Google/YouTube have instituted new transparency and verification measures for advertising, designed to limit the ability of foreign actors, such as Russia, to run campaigns during national elections. Twitter is taking down malicious botnets that contribute to disinformation campaigns. YouTube, Google and Facebook are looking at how their algorithms trend, sort and promote content, after criticism that disinformation outperforms real news in their news feeds. Facebook is allowing access to data for research (with an emphasis on looking ahead, not behind), and partnering with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab to “identify, expose, and explain disinformation during elections around the world.”   Most of these measures are viewed as important steps forward, if not enough to deter or disrupt hostile information campaigns, which are constantly evolving to evade detection measures. In private conversations, journalists and researchers have also voiced concerns that Facebook’s new partnerships are another effort to “buy up” talent and expertise that had previously provided outside review, even as Facebook retains greater control of the data. Additionally, some of the algorithmic tweaks are having unintended consequences, including making the problem of “siloing” worse.  The focus has been on ads, bots and Russians. But ads aren’t really the issue. Bots aren’t the only, or even the primary, means of amplification. The Kremlin prefers to use proxies and deniability — and their disinformation tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) are being cloned by a range of state and non-state actors around the world. Focusing on these areas does nothing to alter the fundamental nature of the business model of social media, which creates echo chambers by design…”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.