New research published on managing misinformation on social media

Dr Richard Mackenzie-Gray Scott, currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and St Antony’s College, has recently published some of his research on how to manage misinformation on social media in ways that are compatible with the human right to freedom of thought. The research is funded by the British Academy (grant no. BAR00550-BA00.01).

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Misinformation on social media contributes to many problems throughout the world, from distrust in democratic processes to prolonging public health emergencies. In an article in the Northwestern Journal of Human Rights, Richard examines whether using targeted behavioural interventions on social media newsfeeds for the purpose of attempting to reduce the spread of misinformation can be reconciled with the human right to freedom of thought. The article offers an understanding of what misinformation is and why it can spread widely on social media platforms. It then analyses the potential of implementing targeted behavioural interventions on newsfeeds to manage this problem, including in comparison to alternative measures such as algorithmic downgrading, deplatforming, and takedowns. This approach is then assessed against the human right to freedom of thought at the domestic, regional, and international levels to discern whether attempting to change choices applicable to the consumption and sharing of information on social media is lawful. A number of insights are uncovered regarding how to move forward in managing misinformation on social media while respecting freedom of thought.