Emergence of disinformation a symptom of ‘global diseases’ undermining public confidence: Bachelet – Global Issues

Michelle Bachelet said rebuilding public trust is essential as disinformation really should be seen as a… symptom of diseases such as systemic disparitywhich has seen “engrained discrimination” flourish, along with fragile institutions, a loss of trust in effective governance and a “limited rule of law”.

She said those countries hit by inequality were now threatened with instability and shaky coexistence within society.

Blooming in the midst of discontent

“Disinformation spreads when people feel their voices are not being heard. It occurs in contexts where political disenchantment, economic inequality or social unrest is flourishing,” she said.

“It thrives when civil society, journalists, human rights defenders and scientists cannot work, meet and speak freely. When the public space is limited or closed. When human rights to freedom of expression and access to information are threatened.”

It can be fueled by governments and officials, potentially leading to hate crime and violence.

But she warned governments not to try to “officially determine what is false and what is true and then apply legal ramifications to those findings. Our human right to access and provide information is not limited to just what the state considers ‘accurate’.”

She advocated a focus on “assessment” how communication is being revolutionized by technology and unpacking who is responsible for what

“We need to look at how best to mitigate the damage caused by disinformation, while addressing the root causes that give life and growth to disinformation.”

She said the sheer speed and amount of information circulating online meant it could be easily manipulated, with campaigns using automatic tools quickly creating a “false impression of widespread popular support for or against particular ideas, or being used to counter dissidents.” to go and marginalize”. voices and ideas.”

Organized disinformation campaigns are also being used to silence human rights defenders, journalists and minority voices, “and repeated attacks may deter women, minority communities and others from participating in the public sphere.”

fight back

The international response must be in line with universal rights obligations, she warned.

“When we discuss the best ways to respond, we need to understand that Censorship isn’t just an ineffective drug – it can actually harm the patient† Freedom of expression and the right to access information are essential, she stressed.

“I therefore appeal to States to fulfill their international obligation to promote and protect these rights, regardless of the social evils they seek to mitigate. Maintaining a vibrant and pluralistic public space will be crucial in this regard.”

She called for policies that support independent journalism, media pluralism and digital literacy, which can help citizens “navigate” the online world and encourage critical thinking.

“States must also ensure broad and free access to information, so that it reaches all communities and constituencies…Trust can never be achieved without real transparency from government.”

Social media regulations ‘inadequate’

The human rights chief said that social media companies have transformed the way information circulates, “and they have a clear role to play.”

“For starters, we need to better understand how they affect our national and global debates. While platforms have taken welcome steps to increase their own transparency and story channels, progress remains unsatisfactory

She called for independent auditing of the services and activities of social media companies, and greater clarity on how advertising and personal data are processed.

“And we need access for researchers and others to the data within companies, which can help us better understand and address disinformation.”

Two steps

Ms Bachelet told the Human Rights Council that there are two “critical needs” in the fight against rising disinformation.

First we need to deepen our understanding and our knowledge: we need more research on how the digital sphere has changed media and information flows; on the best way to build public trust in this environment; and on how different actors can contribute to countering disinformation operations.”

Second, she said that all discussions should be framed within human rights norms† “Shortcuts don’t work here. Censorship and broad removal of content are an ineffective and dangerous response.”

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