The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 17 to 21 December 2017. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Welcome, everyone. Sorry for a bit of a delay. You know that early morning sessions are usually like this. Is my voice coming clear? So fantastic.
So my name is Walid Al‑Saqaf. I'll be moderating the session today. And I would like to note that the session will deal with two rather interesting subjects, fake news and blockchain technology.
In this respect I'd like to note that this is rather emerging technology, so we don't expect to give you solutions and we don't expect to give you recipes for how to solve the fake news problem. (Laughter)
But we'll have inspiration, some ideas from the youth. The young have a very important role to play. They are the ones who will hold the future whether it's going to be bright or not this is the moment to decide. They will be the ones holding the torch after this generation. This is more of a future‑oriented session and it will be looking into the subject from different perspectives. We'll be having a more interactive session than usual since we have only three speakers, so we will give much more time for the floor. And to remote moderators.
First let me give you an introduction of why this is important. Fake news, it's no secret, it's become one of the trendy subjects around Internet governance. It has and continues to have negative repercussions on the trust of the public on the Internet, makes readers somewhat concerned that what they read might not be factual and this leads to some hesitation and feeling that they are informed.
Furthermore, this also damages the reputation of news media, particularly those that are online. I personally come from an academic background. I teach in the area of journalism and media technology. And one of the interesting projects we work on is how to help journalists overcome or deal with the proliferation of fake news, particularly with the rise of social media.
And so one of the things that we have been considering is using technology. And I think this is a perfect match that we could relate to in our own daily job.
It will not be a purely technical solution. It will have to rely on the people working in this field both in journalists, in media organizations as well as end users.
Additionally, blockchain is still a tool. It's been built by humans, so it has the flaws of humans and it also will be used by humans, so it depends on the end user often that the biggest critical weakest point is often the end user. That's why it's important to see that as not a utopian solution but has a tool for perhaps helping the users and those involved in news be more informed of how to use this technology.
So said enough. I'll probably be intervening once in a while if there are no questions but then I'll just begin by introducing the speakers and having them introduce their subjects. We don't have a long list. We originally had 11 but now it dropped to three. But we have high expectations of you, audience, to help us out and introduce both your comments or bring your questions.
So I'd like to start with Nadia who is the young leader in her field in IG. She's at the Steering Committee on young youth coalition governance and youth leadership. I'd like to give her the floor so she can lead the discussion. Go ahead.
>> NADIA: Good morning, everyone. I would like to thank Young Netherlands IGF and the IGF for this opportunity, our fellow panelists and our moderator. The problem what I have with answering the question what is considered fake news, to recognize what it is we need to know what exactly it is. This has been also topic over the last few days in different panel what's do we consider to be fake news, what is included it in to be able to understand how we deal with it.
I follow the framework that was set out by Claire Wardle (phonetic) who wrote the accounts of Europe about fake news that fake news addresses the order that we face today that encompasses a lot of what we echo today. But she specifically said that there are three themes within fake news. We look at false information as being shared but no harm is actually meant with me. We talk about disinformation which is the most popular one heard which is false information with the intent to cause harm. But there's also the little known mal‑information which is actually real genuine information that is being shared to cause harm and that's often private things that people don't want you to know as being shared to cause harm into the public sphere.
So you can see there are three strands. So what would the need to teach if we talked about overcoming fake news? If we do fact checking. Fact checking is limited only to misinformation and disinformation because it's ensuring that we have all the facts correct.
If you look at source verification you see it's important to all three. But then we entered the discussion on trust and we talk about reputation. And then what I have seen little in the discussions yet is we talk about critical thinking. Critical thinking depends on how widely first reading an individual is exposed to. Because perhaps the information that is shared might be genuine but the interpretation of the share then creates the problem.
So rather than saying and wondering whether we are ‑‑ we to have tackle fake news and we are responsible for doing this, I would prefer saying that we need to engage with information in an informed manner so in this way we promote the notion of critically reflecting upon information that is being received whether this is fact checking, so you doubt the validity, or you do source verification so you understand the background and the context whether that is a cultural or a political line.
And also critical thinking, to diversify and extend your knowledge, encouraging people to ensure that you are widely read so that you can encounter different sources to engage with and thus better understand the topic and point out any inconsistencies that we might challenge. This is where I would like to start and I would like to hear from the panelists.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you. Thank you for a brief and concrete focused statement. So moving on we'll be dealing with ‑‑ we'll have Krishna Kumar, he has been active in this field through the Internet Society chapter and the floor is yours.
>> KRISHNA KUMAR: Thank you, Walid, for the opportunity. The way I look at it is two points. One is technology and the other is people. We all know that technology is essential for taking the society forward, for advancement of the society. But what we are witnessing now is with the growth in technology there's a huge growth in the complexities as well in the way society functions and the way people check with each other which has led to other misleading things such as fake news.
So what I'm interested in and curious about is how we bridge this gap between technology and people and create an environment that is conducive to growth. And I feel this topic is very essential because how do we make people use technology in a way that they don't misuse it.
And with respect to blockchain, it has its advantages and disadvantages. And also a lot of people don't understand blockchain so what are we going to do about it if we tackle fake news through blockchain. This is what I'm going to discuss here. Thank you.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you, Krishna. We will also be dealing with blockchain. That's more or less technical but also generally informing. Now pass on the torch to Yolanda who was at the emerging leaders in Internet governance of South Africa, so the floor is yours.
>> YOLANDA MLONZI: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for taking the time and working up early. When I was first approached to speak on this session I was very worried because I was not really sure what fake news is because what might be fake to you might be my opinion. And I also believe that the issue of fake news is not a new issue. So when newspapers came out people were watered saying oh, propaganda, oh, we will be misinformed. As much as we say new this is not a new thing at tall. When I look at media scholars advocated for freedom of the press that we need as many views as possible and it's up to the public to decide what the truth is.
Even in the world of the Internet there's so much information out there and I do believe in a plurality of views and it should be open enough for people to decide what the truth is. My former speakers have mentioned that we could use technology to decipher truth or at least to say this is a valid source but at the same token, those algorithms are created by humans, therefore in themselves they are bias.
For the issue of fake news in terms of the Internet as well is very worrying to me so sometimes we tend to believe that because traditional media like your BBC or CNN are traditional, therefore they are valid news but who is to say they really are. So in a nutshell I've been struggling with this topic of fake news because there's no clear definition of what fake news is. Therefore when we talk about solutions I would like to caution against filtering content or at least labeling content as fake or not because sometimes agendas must be pushed along through that way by trivializing certain opinions or views because it does not seem to agree with the dominant view. Especially coming from Africa where freedom of expression is not a widely accessible thing.
We worry if content is filtered or labeled as fake it might work towards striving freedom of information. As much as this topic might seem new it really isn't because as a person who is involved in media and journalism you'll find this conversation is not so different from when newspaper came out. And that is basically what I have to say for now. And as the conversation goes on I'd like the hear more.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you very much, Yolanda. We have finished the first set of presentations to allow you, the audience to give your perspectives and comments and questions. Please introduce yourselves and continue, please.
>> PARTICIPANT: Okay. I'm a local journalist, free‑lance. It is very rare that I address things to a panel, but I am amazed because you create an atmosphere of interaction. And the three speakers said more in three minutes that most experts in three hours in similar ‑‑ no, I'm not joking. So after ten minutes I can say this is an exceptional workshop.
As a practicing journalist I want to make at least two remarks. One of you rightly said that one of the issues is not only blatant lies, blatant lies is actually an old issue and is and not specific to electronic to the web. But critical thinking. Facts would be okay but in the interpretation not. I can give you some very, very simple basic examples which I had lately. We have here, we are the most democratic country and TV is the most objective, trustful ever. Sometime ago there was documentary on Greece and in depthness of Greece.
Of course in Greece because of the foreign banks so they give the figures. I went to check the figure. I saw that the rate was lower than the normal rate in Switzerland, so I wrote to the committee supposed to protect the truthfulness of information and convey complaints of viewers. They said, okay, we will pass, we'll answer it. It's already 1 or 2 years. I never got an answer.
Why do I take this minute example? It might sound ridiculous. Because if you check polity media you will find every day thousands of such instances but who would be willing to look like reactionary juries challenging the idea. It's not even lies, it's instances. This happens every day, every second, every sentence even in the best.
I wanted to make another remark on the newspaper, but I talk already so much so I might make that contribution in a little while.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you, very much. This is really a very good indicator that it's not black and white. It's very difficult to say okay something is fake news because it has no factual information or it has factual information. Sometimes the context, the environment, the ecosystem.
>> PARTICIPANT: And the journalists who made that documentary are certain they made the best documentary and contributing to democracy and truth.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: So we can say it's very complex. That's the bot line. Yes? Please, introduce yourself.
>> PARTICIPANT: Hi, my name is Ingrid. I'm from the University of Melbourne, not Maryland. I think this is an important interesting panel but I'm a bit surprised that on a conference like this fake news is so much in the spotlight. I understand it's a problem, but I think what the analysis of fake news is could be more detailed and could look at other issues.
For example, I think, and I agree with Yolanda, I think that was a terrific contribution you made, fake news is even in traditional journalism. I can really several instances where CNN combined allegedly images with voice which didn't match in the first place and created fake news. I think it was something about Palestine a very long time ago. But a few instances where the traditional trusted media produced fake news.
Now, in our time I think we have to realize that public communication is totally changing. And there are major backbones of these new communication like Facebook, like other forms of social media which are corporations linking our news fields, linking our algorithm on their websites. On news feed on Facebook, I know it's outdated but I'm still looking at it, you get all sorts of news. How can I assess if these news are correct or not? To talk about fake news just this is news right or is that news story wrong is a bit to scratching on the surface.
I think we need to understand deeper and understand the larger structures under the forms of public communication and I think that's what we need to look at.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you very much. I would like to see if the speakers of a reaction, they are welcome to respond. Nadia?
>> NADIA: Thank you for raising your question. You raised four interesting topics. When we talk about traditional journalism and creating fake news one thing you talked about was how corporations are linking fields. There's a lot of citizen journalism in organizations that are creating involvement in which citizens contribute news stories live so you have the latest breaking news that media outlets immediately pick up.
For example, your news has recently set up Africa news and they have a mobile phone app people can submit any video and are tracked by a field tracker and whatever they submit by the statements that they're making. So then we rely on citizen journalism, we rely on the individual people on their honesty and trust. And the amount of time that there is available between receiving that message, verifying it and producing it leaves traditional journalism in a little bit of a pickle. Because if you look at media economics, we have less and less foreign specialists in the field. We are spending less money. The protection of journalism is also in a major crisis.
Last year Europe was working on a report to ensure how can we protect journalists going into war zones. How can we also protect sources because the sources are scared to produce materials? We have to make sure we have credible materials so we know what is going on in the field directly rather than relying on people with possible messages. That's not really an answer to your question but it is raising the issue more prominently that we need to look more in the protection of journalists, that we need to focus on how are these model apps being used and how can we guarantee responsibility or ensuring that they are reliable. And how can we ensure that citizen contributions are then, you know, accounted for.
We previously spoke ‑‑ there were previous discussions about blogs and whether or not there should be a blogger code of conduct. It tackles freedom of speech that you are holding people accountable who do not necessarily want to be accountable because they want to be free in what they feel. It's allowing yourself to have a diary.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you, Nadia. As a moderator I might want to intervene now and bring back the topic of blockchains. I think when you referred to citizen journalism you touched on something that blockchains can be the direct resemblance of the potential of how technology can drive citizen journalism. Briefly who in the room knows exactly what blockchains are?
Okay. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ‑‑ so maybe I could give a brief introduction of what they are. Blockchains in my view or best description I would say is a reaction to the centralization of power. In a blockchain environment you have the ability for people, individuals, to take control of their data. Technically speaking it's similar to the way that ledgers are kept. You know when you go to a bank and one person deposits money.
There's at the bank a central entity that records the transaction. This person sent this much to this person so this information is kept at the ledger in a central bank located somewhere.
But in a blockchain environment this ledger is kept, identical copies at every single customer or client using the server. So if there are 100 clients and each one is interacting with the other each will have a direct copy, non‑fraudulent copy of the exact ledger so they match 100%. The same copy of the same ledger is in existence in every single note so that means you no longer need a center and that explains why many people who are fearful of the intervention of central banks are using blockchain technology to keep their savings. They don't rely on governments anymore, so they convert their currency to crypto currency and that's why blockchains resemble an escape. It can equally apply to data and news.
Now there's a project that's called Civil in New York that's using the model of blockchain to decentralize news. And it's trying to introduce a new paradigm shift in which you can actually have distributed news rooms.
Another example is press client (phonetic) based in London. It's trying to look at how journalists can build their own portfolios as journalists that are totally independent of any entity. That comes back to the question of influence, power. If you have a power that is influencing a journalist to put in propaganda, bias coverage, then in a system where there is no power above the journalist, then the journalist himself or herself deciding what to do and how to write a particular story.
That's encouraging citizen journalism but it's not the solution obviously. It's one way of eliminating one of the factors that is centralized control. There's no way for a bigger power to tell you how to story on the database. That's one way how block chains can contribute. I'm not saying it's the right way of doing it but it's perhaps helping you understand the connection between blockchain technology and journalism.
There are several others who raised their hand earlier. Yes.
>> PARTICIPANT: Thank you. I'm a member of the European parliament. Working on legislation for fake news and also blockchain. We don't like to call it fake news recently we prefer misinformation because I agree with some of your speakers that it can mislead legislation to ban content which is exactly the opposite of what we want. We need more freedom of speech. Even if this means that we have misinformation or not good quality of information.
And I have to make the distinction between what is misinformation or a different perspective than hate speech and illegal content.
So this is where we can make a clear definition, if it's not hate speech or illegal content that you cannot ban it. There has been an effort especially in Germany to give the power to the platforms like Facebook and maybe even Google to have legal responsibility to ban conduct that is misinformation without explaining what misinformation is. And this is a bit worrying, especially to see this happening in Europe.
So one of the things that we are trying now, we are building up a unit in the European parliament and working with a commission in coordination to provide options when you have an article that is disputed to have directly connected, to make sure that an algorithm will show you different options of the same story and then you can decide but not ban content.
So this is one of the solutions we have been working on to give more data to the citizens because you have a lot of data and it's not clear in if source is verified. Sometimes you can also have data, but the scientist can have one opinion and another scientist can interpret it in a different way.
On blockchain if I may add one thing since I'm also working on the resolution and drafting it now, so we are going to give direction on legislation, not technology but application to make sure citizens understand what is blockchain because there's a lot of fraud and scams around the users of blockchain.
Actually, it would not replace banks but the intermediaries so I would say that the most important thing that blockchain does is remove intermediaries or reduce the power of intermediaries or make it so you cannot take down the system or your money because it's as you very well said it's a copy that is given to everybody, so you cannot take down the system. It doesn't belong to one person. Unless it's a permissioned blockchain.
So you can have blockchain that is controlled so make sure we have some clear definitions. One final thing because you also said what is the relation between fake news, misinformation I would say again, and blockchain. The one thing that can be useful if you have journalists here, you can be paid directly for anything that you post without intermediaries. So without the media, without the association. So this means you can survive if you have good articles. So you can make an exchange and be paid directly through the ads that are shown on the platforms.
Like YouTube, whoever sees your video or content, they give a small percentage, a little bit of a coin, a token to you. So this is just an example of how this could be useful, so this can give more independence to some journalists. But thank you. You have an excellent panel and you made a very clear distinction between fake news and freedom of speech. That's why I don't like this word, fake news. Thank you.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you, very much. I believe there are other comments. Has anyone raised their hand and not spoken yet? Okay. So.
>> PARTICIPANT: (Speaker off microphone).
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: You can take the floor.
>> PARTICIPANT: So it's just really a comment about all these sessions about fake news. I am from Spain from the citizens platform against Islam phobia. I am hearing a lot of freedom of speech. And from my side I don't know how to deal with that because we really have an amount of hate crimes. And it's really affecting society and people are really believing all these misinformation, fake news. Sorry, I have to call it fake news because it is a lot of fake news and misinformation and propaganda.
And so I'm struggling to get a hold of how can freedom of speech be above all that? You know, feeling that all this speech is already on the street, it's already in the work place. Thank you.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you. Please have the floor.
>> PARTICIPANT: Thank you. I'm a Dutch senator. I completely agree with you. People from the Netherlands, I'm from the socialist party, my party has to do with a lot of fake news in traditional media. We call that framing. It's a different word but it's the same thing. The outcome is the same. They true to push you into a corner to make sure up don't gain that power at elections so there's nothing new. The skill is different. That's the first thing I wanted to say. The second thing also in Spain, fake news is being used at the moment. I think that also gives an answer to the question as to why there's so much attention now for this subject at this conference.
We like to blame fake news. Trump being elected, Brexit. Catalonia. It's really an excuse for politicians not to look Pat what really happens. It's not the fake news that made that shift. Of course it's the propaganda but it's stirred up something that was already there. There was no problem in Catalonia. There were a lot of problems in Catalonia. This is why at one point people didn't want to keep it the way it is.
Lastly, then we come to the conclusion we have fake news. The scale is much bigger than normal media that we have which also has fake news or framing or propaganda, whatever you want to call it. How can you decide if this news is real news or not?
I personally believe that all politicians or political parties should be transparent on how they were using the Internet or targeting people on Facebook to get their votes. That's one side. But let's be honest, the solutions we are talking about here are solutions for highly educated people. We are all highly educated as we are sitting here. The majority of people are just not educated. They say it's true, I read it on Facebook. I'm not optimistic in how we can solve this even with blockchain. I wouldn't know a way out.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: I already said we would not produce solutions so this is merely a discussion and looking into it. I'll have to give the floor first ‑‑ perhaps Krishna had a response and we will come back to you.
>> (Speaker off microphone).
>> KRISHNA KUMAR: I would directly add to your point because I am also critical and this is a question for everyone to think about because when the Internet was first presented to us it was this decentralized network that is going to decentralize human interactions. It's for increasing the impact and influence of decentralization. What it's doing is taking away intermediaries and making the process more linear but at the end of the day people are going to use it. As long as we continue to think about solutions with technology at the center, I don't think it's going to be useful because it should be people in the center as the code.
And then we have to think about solutions. And actually pointed out ordinary people are going to use blockchain. There's so much misinformation around blockchain itself, who are the people use bit coins and the answer is more or less people who are trading on the dot market. It's used by more people in the public and there's more investments and more curiosity.
And these are all the things that I feel need to be handled. Misinformation around blockchain. How to use blockchain. How do we further encourage people to use newer technologies in the right way?
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you, Krishna. I for one don't trade on the black market and I have bit coin so. Please.
>> PARTICIPANT: You ask how many people in the room knew perfectly what blockchain was on only 5 or 6 people raised their hands. Personally I had heard hundreds of explanations of what was blockchains. Even at the big show. And it's the first time I understand what it is. I assumed that today now after you're speaking, 100 hands which could be raised.
But I have to warn all of you. And this is not a joke. If you go on this way being factual, informative, casual, open, with question marks, you will not make a carrier in this system nor in any system. This is at the core of not fake news but shallow news. We should have experts speak in this room and which every big organization will not say anything wrong. You can read his speech, there will be nothing wrong. In the UN system you will have all the key words without omitting one but the whole does not make sense. It's dead language, formalistic. This is the real issue.
But you are on the wrong track. You are trustful, open, speak truths. You will never make a carrier in any big organization. Even the lady from the consulate of Europe she's like you and I fear for her future in her organization. So that's one thing I wanted to say.
Second thing, I was very much interested in what you all said with so much freshness including of course the lady from South Africa, but I disagree with her on one count and this count could interest you. In French language there was one daily newspaper which was the voice of God. It's like the times. It still exists.
Once I heard someone say from the day I read in Lamont (phonetic) of Monday which is challenge on Tuesday by that other famous philosopher I would be interested in the image of my neighbor's opinions. In the past few years I read some old books about Lamont and I realize at 70 that I had been how do you say bluffed by a low‑quality paper full of scandals, pull of lies, which people who also revealed in books which were not read because it was again the media establishment and now I realize that I believe lies of the best quality paper for 50 years. And it took me 50 years to realize that what is in France at the voice of God is in fact pitiful ‑‑
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you, very much. Quite enlightening. Also realistic. We do have remote participants who would like to intervene. We will give them the floor and then return to the panel.
>> REMOTE MODERATOR: This is on behalf of Chris Prince Udochukwu Njoku if I pronounced it correctly. There's a big difference between hate speech and misinformation and false information. Misinformation on the online world is like the rumor we live with in offline world. Rumor peddlers are still here with us. Not yielding to the distraction and this has been working. And then the question, why is the online version attracting legislation that may negatively affect people's freedom of expression?
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Who would like to take that question? The panel?
>> PANELIST: I think it's more of a statement than a question and I think it's a good statement but again I believe the reason why it's interesting to talk about fake news and not about the events happening is the reason why we are talking about it. I don't think it will come to legislation because I agree with Yolanda that it might affect freedom of speech. But I think the reason why it will distract us from what us really happening out there.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you. Yolanda?
>> YOLANDA MLONZI: Hi. I don't have a response directly to that but I do have a comment. I have been listening to the conversation around blockchain technologies. As much as we are saying the people must use these technologies I worry that access is still an issue, too, just basic access in Africa. How do we go into access in terms of ICTs but also education as to how to use these things. They might be there but if people don't understand or know how to use them what is the point.
Back to the point who knows blockchain in a room full of intellectuals, you may call ourselves that, only five people really understood that. When you talk about possible solutions, people still have a very hazy understanding of the way forward, I sort of worry in terms of people in my context where we don't even have a hazy understanding, what happens to those people?
More to the point around the bubble, I really agree with that and it really concerns me because take account someone who is from let's say a rural set up, they have Facebook they see this as news, they instantly believe it without verifying the facts. The more I'm worried and tongue tied because what really happens next.
I do think that education has to play a bigger role and that is the most basic not only exclusively to fake news but in terms of this whole Internet governance and use of ICTs.
So in a nutshell what I'm really saying is I still believe that freedom of expression should reign supreme. I still believe there is a need to obviously verify information and fake news isn't just only about what is true or not but it's also about how facts are being presented so the conversation is more nuanced than just facts itself. In terms of the global South where do we stand with this conversation?
In a setting where we need information, any information we get is key because we use that to advance our hopes of having a democracy. The future is dim but at the same time we are here to shape our futures so I think we should take it a session at a time.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you. I'd like to note that focus on developing countries is also useful. I may have said that I teach at Stockholm but I'm originally, you can tell I don't look like a Scandinavian but I've been there for many years. I come from Middle East where there's raging war and particularly from Yemen. I've seen firsthand how media can be on people's lives. It's a matter of life and death sometimes. Let me go back to Nadia. I think she had intervention.
>> NADIA: Sorry. So I'd like to comment on what the gentleman here in the front said about fearing for our jobs because of the manner in which we are approaching it through the very factual setting we are taking. One of the things that is concerning is that we first need to understand what truth means in our society before we can understand what false is.
So what here specifically I'm referring to is media landscapes. For example if you're looking at north of Europe which focusing primarily on news, what you can factually verify if this has actually existed it's about reporting what there is and not focused on opinion. Whereas you look at the south of Europe you present your opinions. So it's opinionated facts. This is what you believe in and this is what you present as being the news.
And then we need to learn what other societies think about what truth or news is. If you're looking at Africa, from what I understand, I hope that I'm being intervened if I'm getting it wrong because this is my understanding of one culture towards another. The media landscape in Africa is looking towards the sentiment of that ideology of togetherness. The truth then in that regard in journalism is about what is good for the people, what is going to ensure that the community succeeds?
If you look at Russia, we look at (No English interpretation) and the fundamental core at understanding how Russian society work is at the end of the day if you're in cold Siberia the community needs to survive so the leader is the person who can ensure that you survive the winter.
So the entire concept of when people were wondering why Putin was voted again a lot of the questions surrounded there is the culture connotations with the (No English interpretation) if which people believe that someone who knows how to survive the winter, whatever their decision is is going to be the right decision for the people so they can share whatever happens, they will survive the winter by building that community and following that leader regardless of what that person does, even sacrificing.
So we need to focus more on micro targeting. We have spoken about the global so you fear because of the informed but we need to look up what are different cultures and societies doing even with our own country we need to look at the different groups that are forming and as fake news targets through micro targeting we also need to do that and strengthen our local journalism.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you Nadia for thought‑provoking concepts. We have remote participants.
>> PARTICIPANT: Well, I would like to make two comments and bring it back to the question to start with is how can blockchain actually be used to mend this? First comment I think the stakes for journalism are up these days. We depend on them more than ever and it's more difficult to do their job it seems.
I'll give one example. I think there was a 30‑year‑long research from Germany saying western Europe is losing between 70 and 80% of insects in our environment. They put it on the 8:00 news and gave more attention to one farmer saying in my farm we have of a lot of insects and my bees are doing very well.
What was the message coming off of 30‑year research compared to one farmer? That is how journalists present news in the way that people really understand what is going on and what the problem is, instead of interviewing one person. The other one and I'm coming back to Arda's comment about disruption of society. And, yes, things are going very wrong.
But when foreign entities are able through bots on Facebook and Twitter to influence discussion that may not be the right answer to the people's problems, then societies may be disrupted but how do we filter it? Yes, we have to have freedom of speech because that's the inherent part of our society, the western democracies, but how do we also protect ourselves from others that do harm? And can blockchain assist in getting the right sort of messages out? And yes, I agree traditional newspapers may have been promotions for political views.
I certainly believe that but how do we get messages across that really verify what the truth is? The stakes for journalists are up because they're the ones that can tell us what is happening. Whatever that outcome is, if blockchain can help and assist with that it's time to figure out how we do that.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you very much. This is a call back to the main subject of how blockchains can or if they can help in not eliminating but confronting fake news. Let me bring in here some methodological perspective. Even if you really do want to have any form of technology, not only blockchain, any form of technology that you can think of, support in solving a problem, you need to look into the characteristics of the technology that is connected directly to solutions to the problem.
So blockchain as a whole has a numerous number of characteristics. Many may not have connection to media or fake news but some could. For example the idea of decentralizations is it helpful to deal with fake news? The other aspect of blockchains that may be connected is the fact that blockchains are generally temper‑proof. Meaning once it's on the ledger it cannot be modified. So information that is put on the database that is on a blockchain cannot be altered. So is that a helpful thing for journalism or is it not?
So these are questions I'm still posing because we should always understand that technology sometimes cannot necessarily be directly a solution but it can be adapted or transformed so it can in a customized way support some of the ambitions we have.
We do have comments earlier. Please introduce yourself.
>> PARTICIPANT: Hi. Martin Fischer (phonetic) from the IGF academy. I don't necessarily think it's a technology problem. I think there's good practice in technology like a lot of quality newspapers started now to turn off the comments section because the comments actually don't add any benefit to the debate. And I think that helps a lot.
What I think, however, it's quite a societal problem and I want to come back to what the lady on the panel on the side over there said earlier. I didn't hear what your party was that you come from but when you frame the so called pain in stream media as being fake news for framing you, I wonder if you're spreading fake news yourself. I don't think framing is a good word to throw in the mix here. I think framing is a psychological process that we all do when we put things into perspective. And for second it's a rhetorical mean that we all apply in our language.
So throwing that in the mix, using that for political gain and we see that a lot currently, I think that greatly contributes to the societal problem that we have can fake news.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Arda since you've been put on the spot.
>> ARDA GERKENS: I think the different is the word framing we use in my country given another explanation in your country. What I meant to say about fake news and I think we talked about this already, that there are many ways in how you can see fake news.
I have really seen ‑‑ well not quality newspaper. I mean really lies being spread. Things that actually were really not true about my party. And I know it happens, too, from other newspapers on other parties. Just the whole thing is we at this point we always ‑‑ there's nothing new about news being spread that's not correct. It happens. It happens with big newspapers, it happens now on the Internet. The scale now is so big. He says I'm afraid if other countries start spreading fake news in my country influencing the democratic process, most probably the same country will use the same techniques.
So in the end around this is what worries me, we don't know what is real anymore so all the information we cannot know is it real, is it not real. And this is the thing I worry about, the scale that's happening now means that our democratic process is in danger. I don't know how to solve this but this is I think what happens.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Looks like time is running out quickly. We have another 4 or 5 minutes. There's one intervention from remote participants. We will give that and then we will have final thoughts from the panel.
>> REMOTE MODERATOR: This is from Chris Prince Udochukwu Njoku. He says some governments often define information as miss or false information when they are true because they want not anybody to know the truth. This is common when they have things to hide. Their plans are not in the interests of their people and they suspect there will be objections and uprising. The question is when is a piece of information false or misrepresentative? How do we find misinformation to accommodate the scenario I described here?
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: So since this is a very big question it cannot be answered right now. I leave that for thought for later. But we give final thought for the panelists and it will be one minute max please. Thank you.
>> NADIA: We have an ecosystem of fake news. We spoke a little bit about fake science or bias science or biased opinions, opinions presented as facts. And although that we haven't been able to find particularly solutions there have been initiatives that are working towards these. For example journalists are looking at Wiki Tribune so verified journalists are coming together to create a Wikipedia version of actual fact source‑verified used.
An individual can sign up to Wiki Tribune. If you have a good background they give you a guide on how to contribute to online journalism and engage with this. The government is doing a EU disinformation campaign to understand about the source verification fact‑checking site that governments are engaging in. Whether or not they have taken the correct approach that's something we are looking into.
We also have full fact and fact check. So we are working from not top down but bottoms up approach and we really should focus on this. One quick comment about the framing and about the concept of framing is something we talk a lot about in business and communication. As I am coming from a communications background I'm scared to address so I'm glad this was raised in the discussion. This as a multistakeholders forum is an excellent opportunity to engage on this project.
>> PANELIST: Blockchaining 2017 kind of mirrors the Internet in the 1990s. We have a lot of curiosity. While I'm optimistic that it can solve a lot of issues including fake news I'm pessimistic that people over a period of time would tend to use this and misuse it. So I feel what we need is stronger value system norms to make some technology that we can rely on.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Yolanda?
>> YOLANDA MLONZI: In terms of fake news I still say we have a long way to go and I'm still not convinced with blockchain but maybe because I'm part of the few that really don't understand it. Thank you all.
>> ARDA GERKENS: I would like to repeat what Yolanda said and that is education. Digital education is key here. People need to make up their own minds.
>> WALID AL‑SAQAF: Thank you, everyone, for making it this far. We just exceeded our time. I would like to give a round of applause to our panelists and to the audience for a great session.
(Session concluded at 10:02 a.m. CET)