What is the role of public servants and policymakers in the battle against mis- and disinformation in our democratic systems?

Article by Elsa Pilichowski: “Recent health, economic and geopolitical crises have highlighted the urgency for governments to strengthen their capacity to respond to the spread of false and misleading information, while simultaneously building more resilient societies better prepared to handle crises. The challenges faced demand a whole-of-society-approach. 

First, governments should help citizens become more digitally literate so that they can identify false information before they spread it, intentionally or not. Increasing societal resilience also means supporting a diverse and independent media sector which can give voice to all viewpoints. Finally, new partnerships between civil society, the media, social media platforms and governments need to be built to help pre-bunk and de-bunk mis- and disinformation.

While not the ultimate actor in information provision, governments themselves will have to step up their capacities in the information space by strengthening inter-agency coordination mechanisms, developing innovative strategies and tools, and working with international partners to build knowledge of the origins and pathways of mis- and disinformation. Another specific avenue is to help ensure the role of public communication in reinforcing an information space conducive to democracy. Breaking down internal silos to facilitate collaboration; building partnerships with external stakeholders like fact-checkers; and focusing on efforts to reach all segments of society with accurate information will all be important.

Regulatory responses that help establish effective transparency frameworks around content moderation processes and decisions, build understanding of the role of algorithms in the spread of mis- and disinformation and promote a fairer and more responsible business environment are all key priorities. Such constructive and process-based regulation is all the more critical to safeguard against government interference in the free flow of information and impingement upon one of the foundational values of democracy—the right to free and open speech…(More)”