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International Experts Discuss Disinformation at Zero Corruption Conference

June 7-8 – The international forum Democracy in Action: Zero Corruption was organized by the Anti-Corruption Action Center, Forum chair Hanna Hopko (former chair of the Parliamentary Committee for foreign affairs), the National Interests Advocacy Network ANTS platform, 30 public and international organizations and media. The forum attracted 65 national and international speakers, representatives of NATO, the Pentagon and FBI, the European Commission and the European Parliament, public figures, and investigative journalists. The goal of the conference was to jointly seek ways to counteract hybrid threats to democracy.

Major takeaways from the speakers, related to media: 

  • Natalia Ligachova (Detector Media) named three key actions needed to counteract disinformation: 1) Ukraine and international partners should strengthen legislation on financial transparency of media and so restrict the activities of disinformation platforms; 2) support quality media; and 3) unite the efforts of media and businesses to create advertising platforms for quality media and support media with grants.
  • Peter Pomerantsev (senior analyst at Johns Hopkins University and director of the Arena initiative) said disinformation can be countered in two ways, through: 1) regulation, and 2) proper communication with the audience. He stressed that disinformation is first and foremost a coordinated behavior; the actual content is secondary. Pomerantsev said legal tools should be created to counteract disinformation, but it is necessary to regulate “not freedom of speech and content,” but the distribution of content. In particular, he recommended nations ban suspicious social media accounts that distribute malign content. Pomerantsev said: “We need to understand our audiences better than propagandists, interact with audiences transparently and democratically.”
  • Kateryna Kruk (Facebook’s public policy manager for Ukraine) said it is important to invest in local organizations and fact-checkers and solve the problem posed by the absence of international cooperation in regulating content. Facebook, following its corporate policy, can counter disinformation only within its own platform, she said. According to Kruk, the problems of distribution of disinformation are multi-layered, and that is why a multi-vector solution should be applied. Facebook, for its part, is working on distribution of special services in various countries – programs for journalists, the News Quality Index, for examples – and over time, they will be available in Ukraine, Kruk said.

More on Detector Media in Ukrainian.

Photo: Austin Distel on Unsplash