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Nov 2021 Updates

Prince Harry and Aspen Commission Colleagues Release Much-Anticipated Report on Misinformation Crisis

Today, Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex—co-founder of Archewell—joined a group of his colleagues who have been working together for more than half a year to release an ambitious report on tackling the growing mis- and disinformation problem in technology, media, and social media.

As the culmination of the Aspen Commission on Information Disorder, which began its work in spring of 2021, the group has outlined a list of 15 specific recommendations for leaders to consider adopting across the public, private, and non-profit sectors. 

Comprised of policy experts, researchers and academics, tech industry voices, former public officials, philanthropic leaders, and representatives from the media, the Aspen Commission directed its many months of combined efforts on addressing the sources and causes of the modern information crisis. 

The Commission’s final recommendations, which you can view here and read a summary of below, focus on three fundamental areas for combatting misinformation: increasing transparency, building trust, and reducing harms. 

Of the report, The Duke of Sussex said: 

“For the better part of a year, we at the Aspen Commission have met regularly to debate, discuss, and draft solutions to the mis- and disinformation crisis, which is a global humanitarian issue. I hope to see the substantive and practical recommendations of our Commission taken up by the tech industry, the media industry, by policymakers, and leaders. This affects not some of us, but all of us.”

This ambitious report is meant to advance solutions to the rapid rise of misinformation we’ve seen over recent years, which has created humanitarian crises, harmed communities, and impacted our democracies.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Calls for increasing social media transparency and disclosure; 
  • A new proposal regarding social media platform immunity;
  • Ideas for need reversing the collapse of local journalism and the erosion of trusted media;
  • Community-led methods for improving civic dialogue and resisting imbalances of information power; and
  • Accountability for “superspreaders” of online lies.

You can read the full report and recommendations here and find a full list of Commissioners who participated in the panel here

Below is a summary of the recommendations put forth by the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder.

Recommendations to increase transparency

Public interest research

  1. Implement protections for researchers and journalists who violate platform terms of service by responsibly conducting research on public data of civic interest.
  2. Require platforms to disclose certain categories of private data to qualified academic researchers, so long as that research respects user privacy, does not endanger platform integrity, and remains in the public interest.

High reach content disclosure

Create a legal requirement for all social media platforms to regularly publish the content, source accounts, reach and impression data for posts that they organically deliver to large audiences.

Content moderation platform disclosure

Require social media platforms to disclose information about their content moderation policies and practices, and produce a time-limited archive of moderated content in a standardized format, available to authorized researchers.

Ad transparency

Require social media companies to regularly disclose, in a standardized format, key information about every digital ad and paid post that runs on their platforms.

Recommendations to build trust

Truth and transformation

Endorse efforts that focus on exposing how historical and current imbalances of power, access, and equity are manufactured and propagated further with mis- and disinformation — and on promoting community-led solutions to forging social bonds.

Healthy digital discourse

Develop and scale communication tools, networks, and platforms that are designed to bridge divides, build empathy, and strengthen trust among communities.

Workforce diversity

Increase investment and transparency to further diversity at social media platform companies and news media as a means to mitigate misinformation arising from uninformed and disconnected centers of power.

Local media investment

Promote substantial, long-term investment in local journalism that informs and empowers citizens, especially in underserved and marginalized communities.

Accountability norms

Promote new norms that create personal and professional consequences within communities and networks for individuals who willfully violate the public trust and use their privilege to harm the public.

Election information security

Improve U.S. election security and restore voter confidence with improved education,transparency, and resiliency.

Recommendations to reduce harms

Comprehensive federal approach

Establish a comprehensive strategic approach to countering disinformation and the spread of misinformation, including a centralized national response strategy, clearly defined roles and responsibilities across the Executive Branch, and identified gaps in authorities and capabilities.

Public Restoration Fund

Create an independent organization, with a mandate to develop systemic misinformation countermeasures through education, research, and investment in local institutions.

Civic empowerment

Invest and innovate in online education and platform product features to increase users’ awareness of and resilience to online misinformation.

Superspreader accountability

Hold superspreaders of mis- and disinformation to account with clear, transparent, and consistently applied policies that enable quicker, more decisive actions and penalties, commensurate with their impacts — regardless of location, or political views, or role in society.

Amendments to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996

  1. Withdraw platform immunity for content that is promoted through paid advertising and post promotion.
  2. Remove immunity as it relates to the implementation of product features, recommendation engines, and design.

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