International panel studying strategies to address social media misinformation

Researchers with the newly formed International Panel on the Information Environment (IPIE) have found scientific consensus that content labels and corrective information can help people identify and evaluate social media misinformation-but little consensus about strategies to mitigate its negative effects.

In a series of first reports the panel also finds that to address the impacts of misinformation, strategies must be expanded beyond English-language and Western contexts with the use of standardized methods and definitions.

Simon Fraser University communication professor Wendy Chun, who serves as vice-chair of the IPIE’s methodology panel, says researchers also point to the need for genuine scientific access to data from social media platforms and robust statistical reporting when testing countermeasures to accurately assess the effectiveness of strategies to address misinformation.

-As artificial intelligence and other technologies continue to advance, we see an increased need to monitor and design strategies that will improve the global information environment,- says Chun, who holds a Canada 150 Research Chair in New Media and is director of the Digital Democracies Institute (DDI) at SFU. IPIE will be a global source of scientific knowledge about the world’s information environment.

-We began our work with a global review of thousands of scholarly publications about the effects of misinformation and disinformation on social media to understand the scale of the problem and evaluate strategies to mitigate the impacts.-

She explains that disinformation and misinformation can have negative consequences for individuals and society, with examples ranging from scams to election interference.

In her role Chun coordinates the organizing and evaluating of research to produce IPIE reports, technical papers and supporting materials. This work involves evaluating threats such as algorithmic bias, manipulation and misinformation and determining evidence-based recommendations and solutions. It also entails developing interdisciplinary, longitudinal methods to validate complex responses to the information environment-something difficult to do with our current methods.

IPIE was officially launched in May at the 2023 Nobel Prize Summit with a mission -to provide policymakers, industry, and civil society with regular scientific assessments on the global information environment by organizing, evaluating, and elevating research with the broad aim of improving the global information environment.-

The organization was created out of a need to study and monitor misinformation similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which monitors and assesses the effects of carbon emissions.

IPIE is based in Switzerland and unites more than 200 researchers in over 50 countries.