Through INFO/tegrity, NDI is defending and ensuring the integrity of the information space.
Within NDI’s Democracy and Technology team (DemTech), INFO/tegrity provides a framework for it to lead and support institutional initiatives countering disinformation and other forms of online manipulation, while strengthening and ensuring the integrity of the information space.
Reliable, authentic information is critical to transparent, accountable governance and to citizens’ ability to exercise their civic rights and responsibilities. Yet, illiberal influences are on the rise, and authoritarian governments view the free flow of information as a threat, something they must exert power over and control.
Authoritarian governments are finding ways to use technology not to liberate and empower their citizens, but as a way to surveil, subvert, and control them. They seek to manage the free flow of information in order to expand their power--what is being called “techno-authoritarianism.” Bad actors and those who wish to discredit democracy use digital technologies and platforms to manipulate information to spread cynicism, distort political processes, sow confusion and division, amplify conspiracy theories and extreme views, and interfere with citizens’ ability to make sound political decisions. Their purpose is to undermine trust in democratic institutions and values and shape the way citizens around the world perceive reality. Beyond disinformation, there are also hate speech campaigns, influence operations, and internet disruptions. In the process, social inequalities in the offline world - including racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination - are being replicated and amplified.
A united effort among democracies has made some progress to ensure new technologies are used to support democracy and human rights. But the threats and illiberal uses of these technologies are becoming more sophisticated as well, and have outpaced the individual and combined efforts of governments, citizens and digital technology companies to date. A continuation of this trend will have dangerous consequences for freedom and democracy if not corrected.
Countering information manipulation is a critical mission for NDI. It does this work in following ways:
NDI monitors disinformation, hate speech, computational propaganda and the overall information landscape as part of its longstanding election observation efforts. Through the deployment of disinformation experts and expanded data collection on digital threats, NDI incorporates analysis of the information environment into its international election observation assessments. NDI also provides technical assistance to nonpartisan citizen election observers around the world to assess, monitor and mitigate disinformation’s impact on electoral integrity.
NDI enhances the ability of political parties, media, civil society organizations and individual citizens to deal with and defend themselves from disinformation and other harmful forms of content, while also promoting and ensuring information integrity. For example, NDI provides tools and resources to partners to protect themselves from disinformation, including training on risk management, information assurance and cybersecurity. NDI is also in continuous dialogue with political parties so they can better understand the nature of threats posed and to strengthen their commitments to information integrity.
NDI develops and shares tools with its partners that allow them to operate effectively, bypassing disinformation campaigns. When partners are unable to use traditional software or platforms due to surveillance or manipulation, NDI provides alternative methods for them to do their work. These tools can help identify, analyze, expose and disempower disinformation campaigns. NDI also hosts “disinformation bootcamps,” where it trains partners on disinformation tools.
NDI leads a coalition of partners in dialogue with technology and social media companies to ensure the policies and standards adopted for their platforms are inclusive, help democratic actors defend against information manipulation, and provide for healthy civil discourse. The Design 4 Democracy (D4D) Coalition amplifies voices of national and regional civil society organizations around the world among tech industry stakeholders. NDI’s office in Silicon Valley facilitates this sustained dialogue.
NDI conducts polling, surveys and research that help inform its approach to disinformation and ensures its response addresses complex societal impacts inclusively. NDI also convenes like-minded individuals and organizations in networks to share knowledge, tools and guidance on information integrity issues, and seeks to rebuild trust in demoncratic institutions.
Info/tegrity: Ndi's Approach To Countering Disinformation. By: Laura Jewett
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