World News

Disinformation Tied to Humanity’s ‘Most Existential’ Threats, Says Panelist at the World Economic Forum

Disinformation is at the root of the “most existential” threats facing humanity, said New York Times chairman Arthur Gregg Sulzberger at a World Economic Forum panel on Jan. 17. The panel, titled “The Clear and Present Danger of Disinformation,” was hosted by former CNN anchor Brian Stelter, in Davos, Switzerland.

Joined on stage by government officials and other media figures, Sulzberger attempted to diagnose and offer solutions for what he sees as the fulcrum of many contemporary problems that plague the world today. “I think it maps basically to every other challenge that we are grappling with as a society, and particularly the most existential,” he said.

“Terms like ‘fake news’ and ‘enemies of the people’ have been popularized cyclically in society, in some of the most repressive and dangerous moments, you know Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia,” the publisher went on. “What it attacks is trust. When you see trust decline, what you then see is societies start to fracture.”

Sulzberger drew attention to the new artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT—an application with the potential to create large amounts of procedurally generated content—as a potential avenue for disinformation as well. “I suspect we are going to see huge amounts of content that is produced, none of which is particularly verified, the origins of which aren’t particularly clear.”

Ultimately, Sulzberger believes the solution is for social media giants to prioritize institutional content over that which is created by everyday users.

“I think they [social media platforms] are going to have to do an unpopular and brave thing at some point, which is to differentiate and elevate trustworthy sources of information consistently,” he said. “Until they do, I think we basically just have to assume those environments are poisoned.”

Robby Soave, senior editor at libertarian Reason Magazine, in an article responding to the Davos panel, offered a snarky rebuke to Sulzberger’s calls for the elevation of “trustworthy” news outlets.

“It’s The New York Times’ view—a view quite popular at Davos—that social media is very bad and will continue to be very bad until it awards preferential treatment to The New York Times.”

COVID-19 Misinformation

Also on stage was U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), who echoed Sulzberger’s sentiments and criticized misinformation about COVID-19.

Moulton suggested that certain speech ought not be protected. “What we’re trying to achieve is some measure of public safety… I have a constituency that I’m trying to keep healthy, and I can’t get them to take a COVID vaccine because of misinformation that’s propagated on the internet. That’s where this becomes a bigger concern.”

Soave pointed out the hypocrisy of the congressman’s remarks.

“Government health bureaucrats, social media content moderators, scientists in good standing with the liberal consensus, and media organizations have all circulated false information about COVID-19,” he wrote on Jan. 18. He acknowledged that some such falsehoods were good-faith errors, but added that “sometimes, these were lies in service of some purported greater good, as when top pandemic health bureaucrat Anthony Fauci downplayed the importance of masking and understated the herd immunity threshold.”

Among the panelists was Vera Jourová, vice president for values and transparency for the European Union (EU, who posited that the rise of disinformation has arisen as a result of failed leadership. Jourová called for better communication from world leaders.

The Czech politician did not advocate for censorship or banning social media accounts accused of peddling disinformation. Instead, she believes the solution lies in ensuring “disinformers do not find their feeding ground.” Jourová clarified that “feeding ground” means the impressionable masses.

The final panelist, Internews CEO Jeanne Bourgault, took a stronger stance than her peers, arguing for legal culpability of Big Tech platforms.

“Should the platforms be held accountable for part of this? They should be,” Bourgault said. “Platforms, when it comes to content moderation, do have a responsibility to keep people safer, and they can do more.”

Advertisers have the power to shift the public conversation, the CEO added. She recommended that ad agencies vet the platforms on which they advertise to “help democracy.”

All panelists were in agreement that more needs to be done at the political level to curb disinformation. Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson took notice.

“The conclusion this year at the World Economic Forum is that the people who are not at the World Economic Forum have too much free speech,” Carlson said in his opening monologue on Jan. 18, reacting to WEF’s disinformation panel. “So, if you’re getting the impression that the world’s most mediocre and least self-aware people are all congregating in Switzerland this week, you might be onto something.”

Liam Cosgrove

Liam Cosgrove works as a freelance journalist covering business, markets, and finance. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of California–Santa Barbara.

Source link


I'm TruthUSA, the author behind TruthUSA News Hub located at With our One Story at a Time," my aim is to provide you with unbiased and comprehensive news coverage. I dive deep into the latest happenings in the US and global events, and bring you objective stories sourced from reputable sources. My goal is to keep you informed and enlightened, ensuring you have access to the truth. Stay tuned to TruthUSA News Hub to discover the reality behind the headlines and gain a well-rounded perspective on the world.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.