Information Integrity

Information Integrity

This virtual panel discussion co-hosted by UNDP's Oslo Governance Centre and Oxford University’s Programme on Democracy and Technology on protecting the integrity of elections from the threat of disinformation took place on Wednesday, December 8th, 2021 at 9:30 - 11 am EST | 3.30-5 pm CET | 05:30 – 07:00 pm Nairobi, Kenya (GMT+3)

The panel explored how to build on learning and evidence from research, media reporting and elections programming to better inform policy responses to electoral disinformation. It provided an overview of current research on disinformation tactics, strategies and risks. It then explored the role of various stakeholders, their experiences dealing with elections disinformation, and their conclusions. The panel discussed how to incentivise different stakeholders to prepare and collaborate to promote information integrity before, during and after political processes, including a case study of iVerify, a technology based, multi-stakeholder initiative for identifying and mitigating disinformation and hate speech in the Zambian electoral process in 2021.

Click below to see the video recording

Earlier in September, 2021 an UNGA side event on Countering Disinformation and Promoting Data Transparency was organized by the Office of the Secretary General's Envoy on Technology, UN Department of Global Communications, UNDP, UNESCO, Global Pulse, WHO and Infodemic Management. To watch the recording of the event click here.

This year's side event is a follow-up to the side event held in 2020 and aimed to: Invite reflections from the member states about the biggest challenges they face in countering disinformation and identify solutions for improved collaboration; highlight key learnings, shared considerations, good-practices, and recommendations that emerged out of the inter-agency work [throughout the UN system] over the past year to counter disinformation and increase data transparency; reaffirm with urgency the Joint Statement on Managing the COVID-19 Infodemic: Promoting Healthy Behaviours and Mitigating the Harm from Misinformation and Disinformation and commit to follow-up on the recommendations by the Member States [in coordination with the UN interagency group]. 

The 90-minute virtual event consisted of a moderated panel discussion among Member States (including representatives of coalitions), stakeholder groups, the United Nations, and other experts. 

Read: Opening statement delivered by Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, at this side event. 

Information landscape

Faced with an overwhelming volume of information, the public has the almost impossible task of determining what to believe. The intentional and unintentional dissemination of misleading, inflammatory and false information is heightening fear and confusion, leading to high-risk behaviors, and driving acts of violence and stigmatization. As such, UNDP has a critical role to play through its mandate to promote informed, inclusive societies, respect for human rights and protection of vulnerable populations.

Strands of Information Pollution

Information pollution describes three different ways information can be misleading. Namely;

1. Disinformation is false and deliberately created to harm a person, social group, organization or country.

2. Misinformation is false, but not created with the intention of causing harm.

3. Mal-information is based on real facts, but manipulated to inflict harm on a person, organization or country.

Our work

Since 2020, the Oslo Governance Centre has focused its attention on combating information pollution. The recent Covid-19 pandemic saw a surge in information pollution relating to Covid-19, endangering people’s health and undermining governments and health systems’ capacities. To offer immediate support to UNDP country offices globally, OGC has created a Guidance Note on information pollution outlining rapid responses and long-term strategies. Furthermore, a 6-part webinar series called in experts to shed light on the Covid-19 situation, how to utilize digital tools against information pollution, fact-checking initiatives, and supporting press freedom. This unique meeting space allowed OGC’s technical experts to consult country offices individually for follow-up support on information pollution.

The issue of information pollution has existed for centuries and will continue to pose new threats against societies. When public trust in democratic institutions, including mainstream media, is at a historic low, this amplifies the influence of rumors, informal news sources, and fringe journalism. OGC will continue to support countries to deal with the challenges of information pollution, and continuously work to enlighten and tackle new ways information is polluted.