July 3, 2022

It sounds a little dystopian, I’ll admit that. But let’s listen to it.

Currently, according to these experts, the federal government’s response to disinformation and domestic extremism is arbitrary, spread across multiple agencies, and there is a lot of unnecessary overlap.

Renée DiResta, disinformation researcher at Stanford Internet Observatory, identified two seemingly unrelated problems: misinformation about Covid-19 and misinformation about election fraud.

Often times, she said, the same people and groups are responsible for spreading both types. Instead of two parallel processes – one in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which aims to contain conspiracy theories related to Covid, and one in the federal election commission, which seeks to correct misinformation during voting – a centralized task force could do one only coordinate. strategic answer.

“If each of them does this on their own and independently, there is a risk of missing links, both in terms of content and in terms of the tactics used to run the campaigns,” Ms. DiResta said.

This task force could also meet regularly with technology platforms and push for structural changes that could help these companies address their own extremism and misinformation problems. (For example, it could formulate “safe haven” exceptions that would allow platforms to share data on QAnon and other conspiracy theory communities with researchers and government agencies without violating privacy laws.) And it could be the tip of the spear for them Response of the Federal Government to the Reality Crisis.

Several experts recommended the Biden administration to bring much more transparency into the inner workings of the black box algorithms that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other major platforms use to rate feeds, recommend content and introduce users to private groups, many of whom do doing was responsible for reinforcing conspiracy theories and extremist views.

“We need to open the hood on social media to allow civil rights lawyers and real surveillance organizations to investigate human rights abuses that technology is enabling or exacerbating,” said Dr. Donovan.