05 May 2021 11:29
Launching their new book ‘Disinformation and Manipulation in Digital Media’, Dr Eileen Culloty and Professor Jane Suiter, part of the Provenance consortium from Dublin City University described disinformation as a challenging problem which requires a multi-pronged and whole-of-society approach to tackle the deliberate spread of false or misleading information.
Jane Suiter said: “People create and spread disinformation for different reasons. With vaccine disinformation, we can see there’s a committed group of anti-vaccine and 'alternative health' activists who create a lot of the content. Others are trying to profit from people’s fears by selling products and services and some are exploiting it for political reasons. Social media platforms are central to all of this because they make it possible. Ireland has an opportunity and indeed a responsibility to show leadership in this area by calling for robust oversight mechanisms as the European headquarters of many platforms are based here.
Eileen Culloty explained that: “Social media companies have taken some steps to reduce the visibility of disinformation, but their platforms are still awash with rumours and conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccines. At the same time, digital advertising helps people profit from disinformation while recommendation algorithms push people towards more extreme content.”
Additionally, the two DCU experts maintained that the issue of disinformation is falling between the cracks in Ireland as the development of relevant bills emerge separately and siloed from one another. The current Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill will introduce online safety codes for harmful content, but there is no reference to disinformation in the Bill. Meanwhile, the Electoral Reform Bill will only regulate during the period of an election campaign.
Eileen Culloty said: “Debates are ongoing about how to counteract online disinformation without undermining freedom of expression. It is challenging because disinformation practices are constantly evolving. The reality is that we need interventions on multiple fronts - technological, regulatory, and educational - and we need greater cooperation from social media companies. We have seen how disinformation erodes trust in scientific expertise, undermines the democratic process, and amplifies social divisions. Building societal resilience to disinformation is a major international challenge and Ireland has a key role to play.”
Newly published by Routledge, ‘Disinformation and Manipulation in Digital Media’ provides a comprehensive and up-to-date understanding of online disinformation and its potential countermeasures, drawing on research from multiple disciplines and international case studies. This up-to-date and thorough analysis of the disinformation landscape will be of interest to students and scholars in the fields of journalism, communications, politics, and policy as well as policymakers, technologists, and media practitioners.
© 2019 Provenance | The PROVENANCE Action Management Team, Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Ireland | Portal