The Duke of Sussex helps issue action plan against fake news

·3-min read

The Duke of Sussex has helped launch a report aimed at tackling the “disinformation crisis” which he says “is a global humanitarian issue”.

Harry, who has previously voiced his concerns about an “avalanche of misinformation” caused by digital media, was involved in a six-month study on the state of the media in the US conducted by the Aspen Institute’s new Commission on Information Disorder.

A statement on the Archewell website says the group has issued 15 recommendations “for leaders to consider adopting across the public, private, and non-profit sectors”.

The statement says the work has been driven by a need to find solutions to the rapid rise of misinformation in recent years that has “harmed communities, and impacted our democracies”.

Increased social media transparency and disclosure is needed, it adds.

The report also calls for “a new proposal regarding social media platform immunity” and ideas are needed to reverse the collapse of local journalism and the erosion of trusted media.

It also calls for community-led methods for improving civic dialogue and resisting imbalances of information power – and there should be accountability for “superspreaders” of online lies.

Of the report, Harry 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.”

Last week during an appearance on a panel discussing misinformation, Harry, 37 – who lives in Southern California with Meghan and the couple’s two children, said the internet is “being defined by hate, division and lies”.

Harry also said he warned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey his platform was allowing a coup to be staged against the US a day before the January 6 riots.

A letter from the co-chairs of the Aspen Commission report, which includes US journalist Katie Couric, at the start of the report states: “Information disorder makes any health crisis more deadly. It slows down our response time on climate change. It undermines democracy.

“It creates a culture in which racist, ethnic, and gender attacks are seen as solutions, not problems.

“Today, mis- and disinformation have become a force multiplier for exacerbating our worst problems as a society. Hundreds of millions of people pay the price, every single day, for a world disordered by lies.”

The recommendations have been broken down into a number of key areas focusing on increasing transparency, building trust and reducing harm.

It suggests “protections” should be in place for researchers and journalists who violate platform terms of service by “responsibly conducting research on public data of civic interest”.

It also says platforms should also disclose certain categories of private data to qualified academic researchers, so long as the information  respects user privacy, does not endanger platform integrity, and remains in the public interest.

Among the suggestions is a call for social media companies to regularly disclose  key information about every digital ad and paid post that runs on their platforms.

Workforce diversity, local media investment and improving US election security along with improved education, transparency, and resiliency are seen as ways that could help build trust.

Among the other commissioners is Kathryn Murdoch, the wife of Rupert Murdoch’s son James.

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