Global Initiative Launched to Combat Online Disinformation and Hate Speech

Speakers at the event

A consortium of prominent think tanks and research centers specializing in digital and data policy, representing various regions worldwide have launched the “Internet for Trust Global Knowledge Network,” endorsed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The initiative aims to bridge the gap between knowledge producers and policymakers, specifically targeting online disinformation and hate speech while advocating for better governance of digital platforms to uphold fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression.

The launch coincided with the first anniversary of UNESCO’s landmark “Internet for Trust” (I4T) conference held in 2023, which convened over 4,000 stakeholders and culminated in the release of the “Guidelines for the Governance of Digital Platforms” in November of the same year. Acknowledging the necessity for continuous evaluation and implementation of these guidelines, UNESCO facilitated the establishment of various stakeholder networks, including regulatory authorities and think tanks.

Comprising leading institutions from both the Global North and Global South, the “I4T Global Knowledge Network” pledges to contribute rigorous research to inform policies governing digital platforms, digital cooperation, and AI-driven digital infrastructure, leveraging generative artificial intelligence.

Notably, the network distinguishes itself by excluding governmental or corporate memberships, operating independently with UNESCO’s backing. Leveraging the expertise of its members, the network aims to furnish region-specific analyses on the impact of digital regulations on public discourse and electoral processes, while maintaining regular engagement with other global I4T networks focused on regulatory bodies and election management.

During a seminar hosted at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on February 21-22, the network validated its operational framework and outlined a roadmap for 2024, aligning with the Brazil T20 inclusive digital transformation task force. In its inaugural year, the network will concentrate on identifying critical regulatory and governance issues surrounding digital networks and platforms, with a particular emphasis on elections occurring in 2024 across 81 countries.

Already, the network has cataloged over 200 research centers and think tanks worldwide dedicated to digital and data policy issues, drawing participation from 70 organizations at its Paris seminar. Through its endeavors, the “I4T Global Knowledge Network” aims to furnish high-quality independent research, assessments, and proposals to inform digital platform governance at the international level, contributing to a more transparent and equitable digital landscape.