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ASPI suggests government work with platforms to fight misinformation for employment

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A report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) says political candidates must formally commit to treating election campaigns as a distinct way from treating citizens while in government.

Person lying in bed in a dismal room: Getty Images / iStockphoto

© Getty Images / iStockphoto
Getty Images / istockphoto

“The online healthy public sphere requires political will,” the latest report by ASPI [PDF]And The Employment Impact: The Online Shadow Economy in the Asia-Pacific Region, Says.


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“Transparency about government funding of public messaging when in office will allow citizens and civil society to confidently participate in the digital public sphere.

“Political representatives must commit not to use networks of artificial, spurious or reused social media accounts to manipulate political discourse.”

But it’s not just political, as ASPI recommends platforms take on some accountability.

“Platforms can implement country-specific oversight committees to manage lofty profile account bans, to ensure consistent application of content modification policies to arrest inauthentic behavior, and to participate in required transparency reports,” the ASPI says.

There is also a case for governments and industry to work together to develop policies and initiatives that provide pathways for digital entrepreneurs beyond low-cost content farm work that reward ethical content creation.

“The influence economy can be encouraged to self-oversee through the development of codes of conduct,” the report says.

According to the ASPI, rental business impact services will persevere to proliferate as lengthy as there is a market for them and cheap digital labor to provide their services.

This creates risks for societies that aspire to meaningful democratic participation and opportunities for foreign intervention, the institute said.

“The environment of manipulated information does not serve democracy well,” she added. “It is particularly harmful to societies that have emerged from historically more authoritarian forms of government, or have weak democratic governance, or fragile civil societies, or any combination of these factors.”

In line with recent testimony by Facebook, the ASPI said there is increasing evidence of countries using networks of commercial influence for hire – PR firms.

Referred to the search [PDF] From the Oxford Internet Institute which found 48 cases of states working with impact-for-hire firms in 2019-20, up from 21 in 2017-18 and nine cases in 2016-2017.

“The presence of an excess of cheap digital labor makes the Asia Pacific region a focus of interest for operators in this economy,” he added.

While much of the responsibility for taking action against the subtle manipulation of online audiences currently lies with social media companies, the ASPI said solutions must include responsibility and transparency in how governments treat their citizens.

“The technology industry, civil society and governments must make this alignment of values ​​the cornerstone of a productive working relationship,” she said. “The structures that bring these stakeholders together must reformulate those — sometimes antagonistic — relationships in order to find common ground.”

Further recommendations made by the ASPI to ensure that the information environment and the digital economy are best aligned with democratic forms of governance, include a “whole of society” multi-stakeholder approach, which requires a reconsideration of the existing “adversarial approach” between governments and corporations that provide the infrastructure for the economy digital.

“Democracies and industry should co-finance capacity-building programs that support civil society organizations in emerging democracies in the Asia-Pacific region,” she wrote. “CSOs can work to apply transparency to state manipulation of the information environment.”

It also suggested that creating an Asia-Pacific center of excellence in democratic resilience could provide a vehicle for multilateral public-private partnerships designed to maintain the health of the online public sphere in the region.

The ASPI called for the creation of an self-reliant legal authority to oversee the operations of all social media platforms under which it operates.

“We propose an self-reliant legal authority empowered to monitor and report on how incentives, policies, algorithms, and enforcement actions work for social media platforms, with the ultimate goal of maximizing benefits and minimizing harm to society and citizens,” ASPI wrote final year to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Intervention Via Communications. social.

The ASPI hopes to donate such authority exact insight into how to filter, block, amplify, or block content, both from the standpoint of moderation and computational amplification.

“Crucially, these commitments must be placed on all social media operating in Australia, including businesses that have emerged from authoritarian regimes and those marginal platforms that serve niche communities – not just dominant Western platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat,” he said. it’s a.

“These transparency and censorship measures would go a lengthy way towards countering the default incentive towards sensationalist, provocative and potentially polarizing content.”

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