Free media, digital literacy – antidote to disinformation, according to UN expert

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OHCHR

State and corporate responses to disinformation have been problematic, inadequate and detrimental to human rights, a UN expert warned today, calling on states to uphold the right to freedom of expression as the primary means of defense. fight against disinformation.

“Diverse and reliable information, digital culture, smart regulation of social media and free, independent and diverse media are the obvious antidote to disinformation,” said Irene Khan, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the law freedom of opinion and expression. the Human Rights Council.

“Disinformation – the responses to it – undermines freedom of expression, polarizes public debates, fuels public mistrust and endangers human rights, democratic institutions, public health and sustainable development.” Khan said.

“States have resorted to disproportionate measures such as internet shutdowns and vague and overbroad laws to criminalize, block, censor and cool online discourse and reduce civic space, and to compel media platforms social media to remove lawful content without legal process. “

In her report, the Special Rapporteur warned that these measures are incompatible with international law and are used against journalists, political opponents and human rights defenders with impunity.

She said the algorithms, targeted advertising and data collection practices of the largest social media companies are widely credited with leading users to “extremist” content and conspiracy theories, infringing on the rights of individuals. to form an opinion and to freely develop their beliefs and ideas.

“Corporate responses to disinformation have been largely responsive, insufficient and opaque,” ​​Khan said.

“Social media companies should review their business models and ensure that their business operations, data collection and processing practices comply with international human rights standards,” the Special Rapporteur said.

Khan also expressed concerns about inconsistent content moderation, opaque policies and processes, and inadequate transparency and redress mechanisms of social media platforms, and called on companies to take urgent and effective action.

She warned that “old, sexist attitudes rooted in anonymity and the reach of social media” were being used to launch sexist disinformation campaigns against women journalists, politicians and human rights defenders in order to exclude them from public life. She called on states and businesses to keep women safe online and offline.

Calling for the proactive engagement of states, businesses, international organizations, civil society and the media, Irene Khan concluded: “Tackling disinformation requires multidimensional, multi-stakeholder responses that are rooted in all of human rights. “

/ Public distribution. This material is from the original organization and may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. See it in full here.

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