By DAVID KLEPPER, Associated Press
Misinformation puts efforts to solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges at risk, be it climate change, COVID-19 or political polarization, new report from the Aspen Institute says through prominent voices in media and cybersecurity.
Recommendations from the 80-page analysis, released Monday, call for new regulations on social media platforms; tougher and more consistent rules for disinformation “super-broadcasters” that amplify harmful lies and new investments in journalism and authoritative organizations that teach critical thinking and media literacy.
The report is the product of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder, a 16-person panel that includes internet experts and disinformation, as well as prominent names such as Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex.
“Hundreds of millions of people pay the price, every day, of a world strewn with lies”, one reads in the introduction of the report, written by the three co-chairs of the commission: the journalist Katie Couric, the former White House Cyber Security Officer Christopher Krebs and Rashad Robinson. , president of the Color of Change organization.
Specifically, the report calls for a national strategy to tackle disinformation and urges lawmakers to consider laws that would make social media platforms more transparent and accountable – to government officials, researchers and consumers.
Another recommendation would remove some of the platforms’ legal immunities with respect to content promoted by advertisements or for legal action regarding the implementation of the designs and features of their platform.
The report’s authors attribute the proliferation of disinformation to factors such as the rapid growth of social media, a decline in traditional local journalism, and a loss of trust in institutions.
Lies can prove deadly, as shown by conspiracy theories and false allegations about COVID-19 and the vaccines that have set back attempts to stop the coronavirus. The report’s authors said that disinformation is proving equally damaging when it comes to faith in elections or efforts to tackle climate change.
During a briefing on the report’s findings on Monday, Couric, Krebs and Robinson stressed that every American has a role to play in tackling disinformation, looking at where they get their information, making sure it doesn’t not spreading harmful lies and fighting the polarization that fuels disinformation.
“The path to real change is going to require all of us,” said Robinson.
The Aspen Institute shared its findings with several social media platforms, including Facebook. A message requesting a response from that company was not immediately returned on Monday.
The Aspen Institute is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC. The report was funded by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, a charity founded by the creator of Craigslist.
Klepper reported from Providence, RI
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