Kinzen's Weekly Wrap - June 4, 2021

This week I’ve been reflecting on the unique role journalism can play in helping build inoculation to the virus of disinformation. Of course, there is the traditional role of journalism: holding companies and governments accountable. Telling stories.

But there are also new ways to apply journalistic principles, practices and values in service of the community. That’s what we’re doing at Kinzen, by blending human research with the possibilities enabled by technology. 

There’s a lot of people cleaning up the internet every day, wading their way through toxic sludge so the rest of us don’t have to. These are the “essential workers” in the age of information disorder. We must help them.

In the blog post I go into more detail on how we help them. Please read and let me know if you have any feedback or questions.

For Your Headphones This Weekend: Podcast Slot

In the third episode of the four part series I’m co-hosting on misinformation, we talk to journalists about their research into the problem, and a free speech activist who warns about the dangers of over-moderation. In next week’s episode, we look at solutions more broadly, including technology, how we might reduce polarisation, regulation, and the role of civic society. Check it out on Spotify, Apple and RTE

The Lawfare podcast hosted David Kaye, the former United Nations special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. He has been leading a call for the use of International Human Rights Law as a model for content moderation. Co-host Evelyn Douek didn’t entirely agree. Check it out here.

Editor’s Pick: Book Slot

Two of the foremost researchers into disinformation in Ireland are Jane Suiter and Eileen Culloty, based in DCU. 

Their new book, Disinformation and Manipulation in Digital Media, provides a broad overview of the problem and possible solutions (or what they call countermeasures). 

It’s a riveting read. They hone in on the roles of bad actors, platforms and audiences, explaining how disinformation is a complex problem that demands more research. They write that solutions must be based on evidence and open to scrutiny. And that, "Countering disinformation rests on a deeper transformation of the digital environment; one in which transparency and oversight are built-in to communication structures". 

Recommended Articles: From the Kinzen Slack channels this week

Global Network on Extremism & Technology. The Boogaloo Movement, Coded Communication and the Need for Context-Based Moderation

This research is from Storyful and focuses on how the boogaloo movement constantly plays with language, making the job difficult for moderators. An area clearly in need of more research is the role of emojis (which we’re exploring in Kinzen!). 

WIRED. Terrorists are hiding where they can’t be moderated

Platforms have made improvements in tackling the scourge of terrorism. This means such groups have fled to decentralised spaces, which brings a new set of challenges. We need to be ambitious, the author argues, "in considering how to apply existing laws about criminal conduct online more effectively, and how to anticipate content moderation requirements for an internet where decentralisation and end-to-end encryption are commonplace."

Belltower News. Why doesn't anyone stop Attila Hildmann?

This piece also argues that current laws exist, and they could help us deal with hate speech and abuse online, but they are not being enforced.