In a world where fake news are often parading as facts, how can we avoid falling into a disinformation trap?
With today’s technologies, news based on rumours, prejudices and fear can travel further and faster than ever before. Lies and half-truths often get amplified online by algorithms and echo chambers, undermining people’s trust in institutions and harming our democracies.
The Coronavirus pandemic showed us how vital it is to fight disinformation.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says: “We have seen an increasing number of fake news about the coronavirus outbreak that are circulating, particularly online.
“It's a massive wave breading on the ground of uncertainty, anxiety and the rapidly changing news cycle.
“I am concerned that some of them can really harm people.”
Tackling disinformation will also be one of the key topics at the Fundamental Rights Forum 2021 on 11-12 October.
The Forum will look for ways to address disinformation and ensure that we can make our decisions based on facts.
Ahead of the Forum, the Human Rights Communicators Network gathered online to discuss how to deal with disinformation specifically targeting human rights.
In a lively debate, Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University's SNF Agora Institute, stressed that there is no hiding in the disinformation age. Every organisation dealing with human rights is exposed to it.
"Now every civil society organisation has to think about disinformation and have the analytical capacity to deal with it. It is a new world we are in," said Peter Pomerantsev.
While there is no 100 % proven way to tackle disinformation, rebutting lies might not always be the most effective way.
"We need to focus on telling our truth. Telling people what we stand for and what we believe in, instead of focusing on negating the opposition," said Anat Shenker-Osorio, the host of ‘Words to Win By’ podcast.
But to do so, we need to ensure access to evidence-based facts. "We need an environment where reliable trustworthy information can flourish," concluded Gabrielle Guillemin, Senior Legal Officer at Article 19.
The debate will continue at the Fundamental Rights Forum 2021.
The goal is to create the Do’s and Don’ts of addressing disinformation for Human Rights Communicators. This will be a free-to-all, practical document for dealing with disinformation, noting down good practice examples and strategies.
Participants at the Forum are among the first to hear the most powerful stories from human rights defenders.
Registrations will open soon.
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