As the world grapples with a raging pandemic, information literacy — the capacity to critically evaluate content for its quality and usefulness — is crucial to survival and recovery. Disinformation and misinformation erode trust in public institutions, exacerbate class conflict, foment fear and hatred, weaken the credibility of our institutions, embolden hostile actors, and jeopardize all human society and especially democracies.
The spread of mis- and disinformation are not new phenomena, but the technologies and platforms that now connect billions of people around the world enable the creation and rapid dissemination of more sophisticated and dangerous forms of distortion than ever before. The growing scope and scale of the threat posed by disinformation and misinformation are seen in politics, health, the environment, and technology, among other areas of society.
This report sheds light on the global trends that come from these new and evolving forms of misinformation and disinformation, issues that increasingly affect all stakeholders, including individuals, civil society, business, and government. While some may downplay or dismiss the severity of this threat, these are not victimless crimes — misinformation and disinformation can cause suffering, economic loss, and even death.
Combatting these issues and restoring trust in reliable sources of information and data requires urgent action at the highest levels, something not currently happening in a coordinated manner. Moreover, all these stakeholders must unite to eradicate this scourge. No individual group can overcome this challenge alone. This report provides recommendations for a global, multi-stakeholder approach to addressing these issues.