In the face of an escalating information crisis, the need to understand and push back against misinformation and communication chaos has never been more urgent. This is a global issue, but it also has profound local implications. It is a challenge that requires our collective effort and a strategic approach to ensure the integrity of our democratic institutions.
The digital society we live in today is fraught with emerging risks and potential harms, such as AI-generated or amplified disinformation. This unchecked information chaos is threatening to undermine our democracy. It is therefore crucial that we evaluate its impact and take immediate action.
Earlier this week, on World’s Telecommunications and Information Society Day, 100 researchers from across the world published a call to support the International Observatory on Information and Democracy.
The Observatory aims to be an equivalent of the IPCC for the information and communication space. It will be a crucial research/policy interface that will empower Academia and civil society to study the structure of the digital information space and its impact on democracy, and to steer more evidence-based and future-proof policies and tech regulation. The Observatory will encourage transdisciplinary cooperation to provide a more holistic research state of the art to decision-makers.
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Over the last two decades, private companies have increasingly shaped the information and communication space. Without guardrails and shared principles across the democratic world, these companies have been able to spill their services with no accountability to democratic institutions. This void has dramatically harmed the public debate and democracy globally.
To address this, a group of 100 researchers from 33 countries have called for the creation of the International Observatory on Information and Democracy. This observatory aims to provide states and society as a whole with periodic evaluations of the information and communication space. It seeks to bridge the gap between knowledge producers and policymakers, produce periodic evaluation reports based on an aggregation and synthesis of all available research and data (meta-analysis), and assess the impact of each tech corporation on public debate.
Community media, such as community radio, community news, and forms of community-focused social media, can play a significant role in this endeavour. They can provide a counterbalance to the mendacious forms of media corruption that are currently prevalent. By promoting transparency, accountability, and fact-based reporting, community media can help restore trust in our information ecosystem.
Here at Decentered Media, we believe that the fight against misinformation and communication chaos is a pressing issue that requires our immediate attention and action. At an international, a national and a local level. Through enhanced research and the active involvement of community media, we can begin to restore the integrity of our information and communication space. Let us all support this cause and contribute to the preservation of our democracy.
If you wish to support this initiative, the organisers would be truly grateful if you could share it with your networks.
For more information, they have designed a communication toolkit, where you can find key information on the Observatory, the call of 100, as well as examples of tweets or posts you can use directly.
Building on this success, they hope to kickstart the Observatory’s Governance set up process with a view to launching its first research cycle in September. The very first step is to launch a multisectorial consultation including insights from civil society to help define the Observatory’s inaugural report’s thematic focus and research objectives, and they want to hear your thoughts