After engaging with the Asia Pacific yIGF 2020, I would like to take my opportunity to share my thought about Misinformation and Disinformation Regulation in the Context of a Public Health Crisis. With this opportunity, I hope that the readers would not expect me to express my ideas professionally but based on my basic understanding.
Firstly, what comes up to your mind when you hear COVID – 19? It is a pandemic. However, I happened to realize that the spread of information is a sort of epidemic that can quickly “infect” users at a high speed. Imagine if false information infected users across the world, it would be virtual pollution. In this current situation, we have been introduced to various social media platforms that play the role of ‘an arbiter of truth’. To my understanding, the arbiter of truth is a judge that determines whether this information is true or false. As a social media user, can we fully count on the arbiter of truth to heal our insecurities? I don’t think so, because I believe that ‘the truth’ adopted by the arbiter is accurately based on the algorithm. If we dig more into the behind-the-scene algorithm, we must have realized that the algorithm was built by the programmer’s way of thinking which may be possibly different from ours.
The main issue is not about how we deal with the arbiter of truth but the insecurities we face after measuring the truthfulness of information. This issue would be best supported by an illustration of ‘health myth’ which was raised by the second speaker – Nat Gyenes. Supposed that we heard about the ‘5 seconds rule’ – in this rule – we have a belief that if we dropped a food for more than 5 seconds, it would no longer be hygienic as we believe that it would affect our health. I supposed that the aforementioned example is suitable to illustrate how any single information affects our perceptions that may create an unending insecurity.
What about the legal protection? The third speaker, Viviane Vinagre, delivered the current situation in Brazil that the disinformation bill does not solve a problem but threatens Freedom of Expression and Privacy Online. In this context, this bill has a potential to grant discretionary power to an authority to remove content and/or collect user’s information that subsequently endanger the citizens without acknowledging the principles stipulated under the Brazilian General Data Protection Law.
To recap, my purpose is not to address how to solve the issues we are currently facing during this pandemic but raise one of the issues on Information Disorder that make us seek a sense of security. As a young generation, we should be aware of this issue and be encouraged to face these ongoing challenges of information disorder that endanger our basic rights.
About the writer
Felicia Yunike (NeMission Ambassador of class 2019/20, Indonesia)
Bachelor’s Degree in Law, Universitas Gadjah Mada