Director speaks at the Digital Disinformation Forum at Stanford University

The discussion forum is scheduled to take place on the 26th of June, at Stanford University. This event is organized by the NDI and CDDRL at Stanford University and will center around the discussion topic of Digital Disinformation. Joined by Scott Hubli from National Democratic Institute and Claire Wardle from First Draft News, director Janis Sarts will be speaking at a panel focused on the framing of the issue of digital disinformation and the global state of play.

International media coverage of “fake news” in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has dramatically increased international attention on the role of digital disinformation in elections. While attention has focused on the influence of Russia’s propaganda efforts in the United States and Europe, the problem is, in fact, much broader. Digital disinformation is a global challenge that will require new coalitions, tools and strategies to address.  

As reliance on social media and the Internet for news and information has risen, political discourse has rapidly moved online. However, in most countries, the ability to engage in free and meaningful speech online is under threat. Moreover, as authoritarian governments face increased pressure from an “Internet public,” many are incorporating new online repression tactics to erode democratic dialogue and broader support for democracy around the globe. Authoritarian regimes around the world are engaged in a long-term and well-resourced program of undermining the democratic rights of citizens online by polluting online democratic discourse through disinformation and distributed denial of democracy (DDoD) attacks. Lessons learned from their own countries and from developing democracies are increasingly being applied by authoritarian regimes to consolidated democracies with the intent to disrupt democratic institutions and to reduce the appeal of the democratic model. Digital disinformation reduces the utility of the Internet and social media for genuine democratic discourse . Governments have already begun to develop more advanced technologies and computerized propaganda techniques using artificial intelligence and algorithms that can write and distribute disinformation at an alarming rate.

Ad-hoc discussions and interventions have been initiated by media and technology companies to address these challenges, but there has been little continuous dialogue with and among political stakeholders, researchers, media and technology companies to discuss how to preserve democratic dialogue online. In response, NDI and CDDRL at Stanford University will hold a two-day forum in June to discuss a longer-term approach and collaboration across different sectors to address digital disinformation and strengthen democracy.

The objectives of the forum are to: 

1. Network senior actors across politics, technology, academia, media, philanthropy and activism to strengthen information integrity, particularly in the context of elections; and   

2. Enable these actors to share the latest knowledge in the community regarding successful coalitions, tools and solutions for addressing the spread and consumption of digital disinformation.   

Please refer to the forum’s website for more information: https://www.disinforum.org/