Dissing on Disinformation at SXSW
In 2020, disinformation is everywhere — spread to all corners of the world by the power of ubiquitous social media. SXSW 2020 addresses the challenge of fake news via numerous panels, presentations and movies. Ten of our favorite sessions on this topic are as follows:
After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News (March 16 & 19): This urgent and soulful documentary gains unprecedented access to figures in the Pizzagate and Seth Rich cases and the Jade Helm conspiracy and Alabama election to expose the human cost of fake news. The film is a gripping portrait of how the “propaganda pipeline” emerges, as false stories travel from dark corners online to mainstream launderers of disinformation.
Building the World’s Largest Team of Fact-Checkers (March 14): News agency AFP has built up the largest news fact-checking operation in the world. How does this help fight disinformation worldwide around major news events including elections and what does it mean for the future of journalism? Founding member of AFP’s international fact-checking project Sophie Nicholson will be joined by Esther Chan and Elodie Martinez to speak to what this operation means for the future of information.
The Coming Disinformation War (March 17): We’re in the middle of a disinformation war. Hostile nations, politicians, scammers and internet trolls are deliberately challenging our ability to tell what’s real. Reporting from the front lines, Ben Collins, Joan Donovan and Brandy Zadrozny discuss the threat posed by media manipulation, conspiracy campaigns, and other propagandistic tactics used by these and other disinformation dealers. They’ll talk about what they’re seeing in 2020 and whether we can protect ourselves and our democracy from the disinformation tsunami coming our way.
Deep Fakes: Innovate, Facilitate or Regulate? (March 19): From election meddling and disinformation to celebrity revenge porn, a form of AI known as “Deep Fakes” have conjured the fears of global regulators. But what is it, why is it so controversial, and are there any redeeming use cases? Discover what the technology behind Deep Fakes is capable of.
Democracy in the Era of Disinformation (March 15): The panel will discuss the implications of disinformation in the 2020 election and beyond. The purpose of this panel is to inform policy-makers, tech industry, and cybersecurity experts through a guided discussion with informed questioning, and Q&A with the audience.
Disinformation & Deepfakes: The Threat to Democracy (March 14): This session will explore lessons businesses, governments and open platforms can learn from each other to stop the rise of disinformation and protect the internet as a forum for free knowledge. It will answer questions such as “who bears the ultimate responsibility for regulating and eradicating this bad content and protecting privacy?”
Disinformation in the 2020 Presidential Elections (March 19): In 2018, Graphika and its partners studied troves of data from Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms and discovered that Russian trolls coordinated disinformation campaigns to influence the 2016 presidential elections. In this featured presentation, Graphika Chief Innovation Officer Camille François, walks through the state of disinformation in the 2020 elections.
Election Security: Cyber-Attacks and Deep Fakes (March 19): McAfee Fellow Jonathan King is a leading authority on cybersecurity threats. With the 2020 election looming, he outlines why US election systems are vulnerable and how they are susceptible to information warfare using the Deep Fakes technology and other disinformation tactics to raise or suppress voting in different swing counties and states.
The Global Battle for Information Control (March 20): From disinformation and cyber attacks to censorship, internet blackouts, and localized data requirements, the battle for information control is escalating. This panel brings together experts with military, government, academic, and private sector tech experience to discuss this critical juncture reshaping the internet.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Fake News (March 15): Media theorist and author Douglas Rushkoff shares why he’s no longer afraid of the algorithms, bots, memes or deep fakes, and how their proliferation may just retrieve our hunger for quality journalism. Most importantly, he believes we must stop seeing our world through the lens of television, and adopt a digital age perspective. He’ll show how by focusing on the subjects or “figures” of our news — from Trump to Coronavirus — we are missing the landscape or “ground” where all the action is actually determined.
Misinformation & the 2020 US Election (March 15): This session aims to explore Americans’ experiences with misinformation, actions they take in response to misinformation, and their perceptions about its impact on our democratic system and streams of information. Center experts will be joined by a variety of panelists whose work is focused on the issue of misinformation.
Video Verification: Battling New Beasts in News (March 15): The rise of doctored videos such as deepfakes, alongside the need to validate video from fast-changing conflict zones, now means newsrooms rely on digital verification techniques more than ever. How can reporters and editors navigate this shifting frontier, rooting out video fakery from story-breaking but unverified source material?
Want the real information on March Magic? Then browse the online schedule for the topics that interest you the most — use the search bar at the top right corner of the interface to drill down on what you are most interested in. Badges are still available and the event is still scheduled to occur as planned.
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.