The Avengers are a powerful force—a group made up of superheroes who have different strengths and abilities to offer. Arguably, The Avengers are more powerful when they are together, combining their forces and working as a team.
The Avengers are 100% fiction, but the idea of a group of people with different skillsets coming together for one goal is fundamental to well, everything.
So, who is going to make up this group of Misinformation Avengers?
Social media platforms have to come together with media literacy organizations as well as experts and researchers who have extensive knowledge in mis/disinformation and AI technology as it relates to racial and economic concerns— such as Joy Buolamwini who is a computer scientist and digital activist.
Acknowledging that there are systems set in place to disadvantage People of Color (BIPOC) is an important first step to combatting misinformation. AI technologies have been known to be racist and implement bias into their platforms.
Diversity is key with forming the Misinformation Avengers. (Diversity should be key with everything, really.) But looking at Artificial intelligence development, a lack of diversity is a mammoth of an issue which only purports racial bias in these systems.
Currently, the big four—TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram— all use AI technologies within their platforms to combat misinformation.
There needs to be accountability when implementing AI technology to combat misinformation within these platforms and there needs to be a diverse group of people holding these platforms accountable as well as shaping procedures, policy and technology—aka the Misinformation Avengers.
Before platforms can up the ante on AI technology use to combat misinformation, there first needs to be a dismantling of the systemic racism that is embedded in that technology.
The Conversation states, “While it is definitely worth allocating resources to combating disinformation using AI, caution and transparency are necessary given the potential ramifications.”
The goal isn’t to eradicate every piece of misinformation by removing it—as its considered impossible to even do so.
Instead, there should be a shared collective process of ideas and initiatives through media literacy groups partnering with social media platforms—which TikTok is currently doing with NAMLE—along with the partnership of fact-checkers like Politifact to verify information—and a diversified group of computer scientists and human rights experts to improve AI technology within social media platforms so content can be labeled misleading/false if appropriate, and in a way that doesn’t harm entire groups of people.
A peer-reviewed study from Harvard has shown that warning labels on misinformation can help combat misinformation’s effects on individuals but states “platforms need to be intentional in how warning labels are implemented to avoid subtlety that may cause users to miss them.”
In other words, the labels need to be very clear, very distinct and very ‘in your face’.
Currently, twitter utilizes a ‘misleading warning label‘ that automatically disables the tweet from being shared, liked or commented on. This technique should be utilized on TikTok, Facebook and Instagram.
Educating masses on misinformation provides social media users with the tools to identify misinformation better—it sets a foundation. Teaching individuals media literacy has been shown to improve an individual’s detection of false news.
Social media platforms should partner with media literacy groups to create fun and engaging content on mis/disinformation—showing what it looks like, how to detect it, etc.
The fact-checking organizations and AI technology act as a ‘safety net’ to catch those who fall through the metaphorical net from not having media literacy skills—as these two components will help detect mis/disinformation and apply the proper label and/or decrease the content’s visibility on the platform.
The use of human rights experts and computer scientists within the Misinformation Avengers provide transparency and accountability for the AI technology that social media platforms intend to use. In 2019, there was a United Nations conference with a similar group of people who discussed the impact of AI technology.
Ultimately, it is the sharing and assembling of expertise, knowledge and ideas that will better help to combat misinformation.
Team work makes the dream work.
*image from Pixabay and made with Canva.