The Choosing Our Future Public Forum launches this week to engage the public with key debates surrounding Covid-19. One topic examines how to combat fake news and false information.
The Covid-19 crisis highlighted key problems with online information. The public faced an onslaught of news and opinion, often quoting conflicting scientific reports, while there was an explosion of social media posts and WhatsApp messages spreading rumours, scams, and conspiracy theories. The WHO called it an ‘infodemic’: an abundance of accurate and inaccurate information that left many people confused about what to believe. At best, this created additional worry and confusion at a time when people were already under great stress. At worst, it led people to misunderstand the risks and make bad choices about their healthcare and behaviour.
We know from research that people create and believe false information for many different reasons. We also know that people can be helped to recognise and reject false information. So one of the big questions is who has responsibility to intervene and what kind of actions are appropriate to protect the public at large while also protecting the fundamental right to freedom of expression?
The Choosing Our Future Public Forum invites you to share your experiences and thoughts about what can be done to combat this problem. Let us know what you think and join the discussion on Wednesday at 15:30.
The citizen-led discussion will feature insights from a professor of philosophy (Maria Baghramian), a media and tech industry expert (Áine Kerr), a professor of cognitive psychology (Stephan Lewandowsky), and a disinformation researcher (Eileen Culloty).
Broadly based on the success of Irish Citizens’ Assemblies, the Choosing Our Future Public Forum is led by FuJo and the ADAPT Centre with funding from Science Foundation Ireland.