SXSW Moments: Fighting Fake News
Did you miss something at SXSW 2019? Want to relive the magic? Look to this space over the coming weeks for links to video and audio replays of some of the most incredible experiences from this year’s event.
In the wake of the devastating Easter Sunday bomb attacks that killed more than 300 people, the government of Sri Lanka shut down popular social media apps, including Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Viber, reflecting mounting concern that social media has become a potent incubator of rumor, misinformation, and extremism — a subject that received considerable attention at SXSW 2019. In case you missed it, check out:
Conspiracy Theorists on Social Media
Given the massive growth, some argue social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube — even Reddit — should be regulated, while others feel the platform should be another place where freedom of speech reigns. Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny of NBC News, Kelly Weill of The Daily Beast, and Charlie Warzel of New York Times’ opinion section spend their time interacting with the darkest corners of the internet. Their SXSW discussion focuses on the role social media plays when right-wing conspiracy theorists choose to make a platform their home base for discussion, promoting conversations around hate speech, white supremacy, incels, and holocaust deniers. And what happens when online conversation turns into real life action.
Disrupting Extremism: New Tools to Fight Hate
Hate and violence from far right extremist ideologies has spread across America. Part of the catalyst of this trend is online propaganda supporting the cause. Can we harness the same technology that has disrupted the music, hotel, dating, gaming, and taxi industries to disrupt hate and extremism online? Can the power of AI and other tools identify and engage individuals propagating hate online? The panel details what can be done to protect online spaces from abuse by extremists.
Easy to Fool? Journalism in the Age of Deepfakes
Simpler tools and more powerful processors have democratized synthetic video — more commonly known as deep fakes. Like photos once were, video is still commonly used as proof that something happened, but it’s now possible to fictionalize actual news video. What does this mean for journalists and their audiences? How do synthetic videos threaten trust in the news media? And how can the media aggressively pursue scoops without risking their credibility in a fast-moving news cycle? What tools exist — or should exist — to detect potential fakes? Who is fighting the potential spread of synthetic videos and what can we do about it?
Can We Fight Fake News Without Killing the Truth?
Now that the Internet and social media are used to facilitate the flow of information, this has also enabled the amplification of fake news, post-truth and hate speech. This chaos has prompted some legislators and policymakers to attempt to regulate digital spaces, including news sites, social networks, and communications tools. But how can genuine concerns be addressed without increasing the risk of censorship of valid ideas and impeding fundamental rights of freedom of expression ? How can we work together to ensure that all stakeholders of online spaces — journalists, academics, businesses, governments, and ordinary users of social media — have both their rights of free expression and their right to not be manipulated protected?
More Memories from SXSW 2019
Change is Coming
It’s Time for Sports!
Saving the Ocean
Social Media Power
Telling New Media Stories
May the Fourth
Women in Tech
Thriving at Work
Making a Difference
Do these audio recordings inspire you to get involved in a SXSW session next year? Enter your forward-thinking speaking proposal for March 2020 via the SXSW PanelPicker. Speaking proposals for next year’s event are accepted via this interface from July 1 through July 19.
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.