Worldacquire’s co-founders spoke at the UN Internet Governance Forum 2019 in Berlin to address two current issues in internet regulation and digital ethics.
At a session about the effect of algorithms on elections, we pointed out that while most of the public’s attention is focused on the harms of “paid” online political ads algorithms, there is a substantial lack of awareness of the fact that also “earned” online content is driven by poorly understood algorithms.
In essence, also “earned” content can be manipulated and rigged in a variety of ways: social bots, fake accounts and dishonest engagements (e.g. large numbers of fake “likes” or “dislikes/downvotes/flags”) have also been responsible for many of the recent polarising issues threatening to destabilise civil society and democracy worldwide.
Separately, at a panel on internet ethics and human rights, we highlighted how social media platforms facilitate political persecution, harassment and identity theft. More importantly, as directly witnessed by several attendees of the session, the social media companies have inadequate measures to protect the victims – often placing the burden of justice on the victims.
Worldacquire’s Christopher Treshan Perera summarised that a balance needs to be struck when designing digital products and platforms, and that these need to involve all stakeholders.
In conclusion, Worldacquire’s team is satisfied to see a vast amount of stakeholders participating in the various debates around digital ethics, but we still recommend to press on for fairer solutions and more transparency.