Begin of page section: Content

Disinformation Refugees Welcome

Users in search for truth ‘by design’

Friday, 01 Mar 2019

In reaction to massive disinformation campaigns around the world, from Russian meddling with US elections to Twitter manipulations in the Arabian Gulf, the trust in traditional social media platforms has been rapidly eroding. Just like a certain area becomes unlivable because of the climate change effects, contemporary social media have become unusable andunbearable for certain user groups because of disinformation, noise, anxiety and hate they generate. As a response to this disinformation crisis, a digital migration wave has started, with more and more users seeking for truth, authenticity and trust elsewhere.

One of the most striking examples of such alternatives is Mastodon. Activists, marginalized populations, journalists are actively switching from Twitter to this opensource and federated microblogging platform. Now counting more than a million active users, Mastodon proposes a decentralized infrastructure that providesinteresting ways of organizing communities, defining « truth » and « fake », sharing information andcountering hate speech. Other social media projects, such as Secure Scuttlebot, Matrix, Diaspora propose new protocols and decentralized architecture solutions that offer novel technical ways to build « safer spaces », counter disinformation and curate content without use of AI and algorithmic governance.

After the Snowden revelations tech communities have done a lot to provide « security by design » and defend users from state and corporate surveillance with the help of encryption. Now it’s right about time to think of « truth by design » ! Can we imagine alternative, opensource, decentralized social media platforms that would be resistant to disinformation and fake, and provide new ways to curate content, build online reputation and verify information?

The workshop will feature a short introduction into the current disinformation research by Xenia Ermoshina, Citizen Lab and ISCC postdoc fellow and digital activist, who will share some of the most interesting examples of disinformation campaigns and show how this has ever become possible because of the technical design, architecture and algorithms of mainstream social media platforms. We will then look on the alternative landscape, and build together a list of known and used platforms that could provide more room for truth and trust.

This workshop is first of all a space and time for collective thinking. All « disinformation refugees » are welcome here: those whoonly dream ofabandonning proprietary centralized social media in favor of alternative solutions, those who have already started to explore these new territories and want to share their doubts and hopes, and those who think technical solutionnism is not enough to rebuild trust.

End of this page section.
Skip to overview of page sections.