Rebuilding Trust in Information Ecosystems

The global information environment is in a state of disruption, disorder, and distrust. Dis and misinformation flows through social platforms and news media, conceived and distributed by malevolent actors and amplified by unaware consumers - This is a high profile challenge that has mobilized stakeholders from across society:

- News publishers are focused on how the spread of false news and information undermines their business models. A polluted information environment devalues their core product - reliable, trustworthy news. Thinner margins undermine their ability to deliver a quality product, and increases the motivation to cut corners and rely on short term fixes – a vicious cycle. Brands and users lose trust and audiences wane.

- Social media platforms are facing existential questions about whether and how their technologies have created social division, reinforce ideological perspectives, and distort decision making. Their role has been fundamental in shaping the new information environment, and they will be fundamental in reshaping it in order to rebuild trust.

- Governments must understand the strategy and tactics of malevolent disinformation actors, and the intricacies of misinformation flows, in order to define active measures to mitigate effects on their national information ecosystems and the integrity of their political systems. Information warfare, including the creation and spread of false news and information through digital channels, is the new geopolitical conflict arena, with some nation states using digital platforms as channels for propaganda and disinformation activities.

- Private sector businesses have not been spared the damaging impacts caused by dis and misinformation. False or inaccurate data spread via consumer channels can significantly damage brand value, revenues and share prices.

- Consumers must know which information sources to trust and how to evaluate trustworthiness.

At the moment, there are multiple initiatives and projects designed to tackle particular aspects of this complex challenge creating a seemingly fragmented and chaotic road to resolution; As such, through its neutral platform, The World Economic Forum is using various lenses to create an arena of collaboration for tackling this complex and interconnected challenge.

To-date, the Forum’s platform has managed to both (a) facilitate collaboration among the numerous existing projects and initiatives in this area, and (b) create a space where new innovative projects have emerged. Examples of new community-led projects that have materialized from our platform:

  1. The Quality Project: Driven by the City University of New York’s Craig Newmark School of Journalism, it will evaluate and aggregate signals of quality in news, bringing together data from many disparate initiatives to make this information more useful for digital platforms and advertising networks and agencies, informing their decisions about ranking and advertising buys so they may give more promotion and financial support to quality, while withdrawing support from disinformation online.

  2. Project Meridio: Driven by Distributed Media Lab, a new and developing non-profit partnership between the digital publishers, Mozilla Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and other stakeholders focused on streamlining the value chain and improving sustainability of the programmatic advertising space. The project seeks to conceive a 100% consumer-consented personal data exchange platform for digital publishers, removing reliance on opaque 3rd party provided data in online advertising.