The global information environment is in a state of disruption, disorder, and distrust. Dis- and mis-information 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 mis-information. 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.
The topic of information integrity is multidimensional, appearing in different guises and with different consequences depending on the angle from which it is approached. There are multiple initiatives and projects designed to tackle particular aspects of this complex challenge.
Through its neutral platform, The World Economic Forum will use the following three lenses to create an arena for tackling this complex and interconnected challenge:
1) Disinformation operations that knowingly and strategically disseminate false information in order to shift public opinion or cause harm,
2) News media business models that would greatly benefit from new innovative approaches and design, and
3) Media literacy and engagement across the end-user community, a critical factor for sustainable positive progress on this challenge.