The infodemic that accompanied the spread of the coronavirus looms large, complicating efforts to contain the virus. Civil society, tech companies, media organizations, and governments must tackle it with the same deliberateness that they bring to combatting the pandemic itself.
Because the digital information space is highly interconnected, civil society partnerships can play a role in building a secure, democratic digital environment and fostering transnational resilience against information manipulation. For this reason, the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) partnered with Globsec in March 2021 to enhance their Alliance for Healthy Infosphere (AHI), a multi-institutional and multi-national network of academic institutions, civil society organizations, and private companies collaborating to develop common frameworks and increase awareness about online challenges. Together, ASD, Globsec, and AHI’s 12 members, located mostly in Central and Eastern Europe, will work towards viable measures that national governments and European institutions should adopt and implement to raise the costs on malign interference, ensure safe engagement on digital platforms, and build stronger transnational societal resilience against online information manipulation.
Falsehoods travel fast, often leaving governments, independent fact checkers and journalists, and tech companies to play catch up. The European Commission has put forward several proposals that attempt to combat the spread of mis- and disinformation and other harmful content—including through the Digital Services Act and the European Democracy Action Plan—but there is still work to be done to monitor and expose the tactics and tools used to manipulate information online, to reinforce the credibility and visibility of authoritative content, to advocate for increased accountability and oversight of social media platforms, and to reduce the amplification of harmful content. Throughout our partnership, ASD and Globsec will continue to articulate policy proposals for a healthier, safer, and more accountable public sphere, engaging policy makers, experts, civil society organizations, academia, media, and private industry at the local, national, European, and international level.
By bridging ideas, people, and resources, we are building a community geared towards creating a safe and accountable digital space and enhancing democratic resilience; a community that aims to address the undermined trust of public institutions, the lack of operational transparency among leading digital platforms, and the insufficient articulation of international norms and rules around tech companies’ responsibilities to counter the spread of disinformation, and to help develop and enforce community standards to mitigate the increasing disruption of the information space. The combination of ASD, Globsec, and AHI members’ expertise puts us in a strong position to contribute to the development of a more secure infospace.
As vaccination campaigns are in full swing to immunize citizens against the coronavirus, so too are campaigns to inoculate citizens against the infodemic. ASD is proud to join the Alliance for Healthy Infosphere to improve transnational information infrastructure and build democratic resilience against information manipulation.