GFMD ATTENDS EU DISINFOLAB CONFERENCE IN BRUSSELS

GFMD at EU DisinfoLab’s Annual Conference in Brussels

On May 28-29, GFMD’s Anne Marie Hammer and Justine Marchal attended the EU DisinfoLab’s annual conference. Key experts presented the emotional and psychological mechanisms behind public susceptibility to disinformation, introduced research and findings related to the recent European election campaigns, and discussed viable options for regulation both nationally and internationally. The conference was attended by media and media development actors, fact-checkers, researchers and academics, experts in media law, and public relations representatives from Twitter and Google.

The session on “Regulating Disinformation: How can we ensure a free and fair public debate online?” gathered researchers and public body representatives to discuss potential regulation frameworks for online platforms. The main observation was clear: there is a need to go further regarding platform regulation framework through adoption of more transparent and proactive approaches.  

At the European level, online platform regulation already exists as part of legislation, most notably in order to counter cyberattacks and terrorism online. Lubos Kuklis, Chair of the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA), explained that this particular advisory body of the European Commission is currently compiling media regulations from diverse European countries in order to monitor and to assess the code of conduct of the platforms before submitting the findings to the Commission.   

Regarding disinformation, each country has its own unique definition. However, a coordinated response amongst these countries is needed in order to effectively counter it. Among the solutions put forward by the participants were plans to enhance media literacy, media pluralism and the creation of a code of ethics. Trisha Meyer, Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute for European Studies at VUB, advocated for a co-regulation system in collaboration with governments in order to hold the platforms accountable.

Panelists shed light on the creation of a Social Media Council coming from David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The Council would aim to protect users’ rights on digital platforms. By closing the session, Pierre Haski, Chair of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), highlighted the Journalism Trust Initiative which promotes quality content, notably by removing sources of disinformation from search engines.