Elon University

The 2017 Survey: The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online (Q4 Credited Responses)

Credited responses to the third follow-up question:
What civil liberties might be curtailed by acts to cut misinformation?

Internet technologists, scholars, practitioners, strategic thinkers and others were asked by Elon University and the Pew Research Internet, Science and Technology Project in summer 2017 to share their answer to the following query:

Future of Misinformation LogoWhat is the future of trusted, verified information online? The rise of “fake news” and the proliferation of doctored narratives that are spread by humans and bots online are challenging publishers and platforms. Those trying to stop the spread of false information are working to design technical and human systems that can weed it out and minimize the ways in which bots and other schemes spread lies and misinformation. The question: In the next 10 years, will trusted methods emerge to block false narratives and allow the most accurate information to prevail in the overall information ecosystem? Or will the quality and veracity of information online deteriorate due to the spread of unreliable, sometimes even dangerous, socially-destabilizing ideas?

About 49% of these respondents, said the information environment WILL improve in the next decade.
About 51% of these respondents said the information environment WILL NOT improve in the next decade.

Follow-up Question #3 was:
If changes can be made to reduce fake and misleading information, can this be done in a way that preserves civil liberties? What rights might be curtailed?

Some key themes emerging from among the responses: – There is likely to be a curtailment of the ‘rights’ of those who do harm to society. – Systems should generally be optimized in a way that protects civil liberties. – It’s not easy to define what is real, what is misleading – who gets to decide? – Limiting rights is not likely to reduce the most dangerous fake and misleading information. – Some solutions may help limit misinformation while preserving rights to some extent. – Create resilience and embed critical thinking rather than ‘trying to destroy all lies.’ – The information explosion is so overwhelming we need to rething things.

Written elaborations by for-credit respondents

Misinformation Online Full Survey LinkFollowing are full responses to Follow-Up Question #3 of the six survey questions, made by study participants who chose to take credit when making remarks. Some people chose not to provide a written elaboration. About half of respondents chose to remain anonymous when providing their elaborations to one or more of the survey questions. Respondents were given the opportunity to answer any questions of their choice and to take credit or remain anonymous on a question-by-question basis. Some of these are the longer versions of expert responses that are contained in shorter form in the official survey report. These responses were collected in an opt-in invitation to about 8,000 people.

Their predictions:

Jim Hendler, professor of computing sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, commented, “The only ways to fully curtail fake and misleading information (assuming such could even be rigorously defined) would be to rely heavily on rules and regulations that would be unacceptable civil liberties violations. What can be done is stronger policies that fight deliberate manipulation for profit or personal gain – many such laws already exist (libel and slander, SEC rules, et cetera) but the changing pace of technology means these rules need to be updated. Further, the mechanisms in the current legal system (for example, a libel case lasting years) cannot keep up with the pace of information – either much stronger penalties for convictions, new civic means of engagement, et cetera would be needed.”

Sonia Livingstone, professor of social psychology, London School of Economics and Political Science, replied, “Offline, no-one ever said they have the right to shout into the homes and private lives of everyone; the internet has amplified the ability of those with money to reach many ears, but I do not agree that’s a speech right. So yes, ‘speech rights’ will have to be curtailed. But that will curtail the rights of the superrich, the malevolent and the private sector. Ordinary folk with something to say will still be able to speak, just not to reach absolutely everyone in an instant without any kind of filter for validity or relevance.”

Mark Glaser, publisher and founder, MediaShift.org, observed, “You must preserve civil liberties at all costs no matter what you’re trying to accomplish. However, there might be less ‘free speech’ for those who are using that as a shield to promote misinformation and fake news (along with hate speech).”

David Weinberger, writer and senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, noted, “Yes, but I’m not sure that civil liberties is the right frame. We at least need to also be asking about whether we can reduce the influence of false information while preserving robust, genuine disagreement.”

Veronika Valdova, managing partner at Arete-Zoe, noted, “Certainly, yes. Freedom of speech is not an absolute right. Unprotected speech includes obscenity, child pornography, fighting words and true threats. Particular categories of speech can also be subject to criminal or civil suit, such as disclosure of classified information, the disclosure of personally identifiable health information, defamation, libel or slander. Commercial free speech is yet another topic, fiercely disputed in e.g. pharmaceutical advertising (see U.S. vs. Caronia). False testimony is not protected either. Impersonation, threats and hate speech and revenge reputation damage including revenge porn are currently difficult to prosecute but that may change. German authorities are taking the protection of their information environment very seriously, due to historical experience with the effect of Nazi propaganda.”

Jamais Cascio, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future, noted, “If the system changes to *prohibit* or otherwise *stop* the production and proliferation of misleading information, then this will undermine civil liberties, as the definition of ‘misleading’ will inevitably take on subjective qualities. If the response to misleading information is functionally-mandatory verification information, then this would arguably not violate civil liberties. As long as the tools/methods used to reduce fake/misleading info do not *prevent* the discussion or creation of fake/misleading info, civil liberties will likely be fine. That is to say: a system that identifies false info without preventing the false info from being said would likely be civil liberties-friendly (or at worst, a frenemy). It’s the prevention of communication that’s the problem.”

Leah Lievrouw, professor in the department of information studies at the University of California-Los Angeles, observed, “The authenticity, veracity, consistency, balance, fairness, et cetera, of information have, historically, been the responsibility of trusted institutions and actors (science, law, the academy, the press and publishers) who created systematic methods for making information as reliable as possible (though never perfectly so, which is more or less impossible). Peer review, editorial judgment, logical argument and debate, have been our best tools – but all are now being undermined as ‘elite’ and thus illegitimate, in favor of emotion, personal experience, storytelling.”

James LaRue, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association, commented, “Even unfailingly attaching identity to statement doesn’t work to reduce fake and misleading information. We need to incentivize truthfulness. Reward people for civil discourse. Award points for fact-checking, and for withstanding those checks. A second option is legislation, criminalizing some kinds of speech. But that, clearly, is fraught with a host of First Amendment issues.”

Marc Rotenberg, president, Electronic Privacy Information Center, wrote, “The meaningful solutions to fake news do not pose a risk to civil liberties; they pose a risk to corporate dominance of the internet.”

Andrew Nachison, author, futurist and founder of WeMedia, noted, “What are civil liberties in networks and communication systems controlled by private enterprises? We need a global doctrine for digital rights – and without that, civil liberties will be under constant threat from governments with authoritarian, anti-democratic instincts and policies.”

Matt Mathis, a research scientist who works at Google, said, “The right of free speech should not include global broadcasting of outright lies.”

Charles Ess, a professor of media studies at the University of Oslo, wrote, “Efforts to reduce fake and misleading information will, among other things, have to severely reduce the possibilities of anonymous communication online: this means a reduction in privacy and at least anonymous forms of free expression. The counterweights to ensure that these restrictions in turn do not become misused by those in power include far more robust educational efforts aimed at helping citizens better understand and develop the basic skills and capacities – the virtues – required for not only effective political discourse online, but also democratic citizenship more broadly. We need nothing less than a new enlightenment, one that sustains classic Enlightenment-Democratic theories and norms, but as transformed as needed for life in a world dominated by digital communication technologies.”

John Anderson, director of Journalism and Media Studies at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, wrote, “The fact that we’re raising the issue of curtailing civil liberties in order to better manage information flows suggests that this problem has already caused irreparable harm to norms of a functional democracy.”

Susan Etlinger, industry analyst, Altimeter Research, said, “I have to believe that any attempt to reduce misinformation must preserve civil liberties, or it is simply a weapon available for use by the highest bidder.”

Wendell Wallach, a transdisciplinary scholar focused on the ethics and governance of emerging technologies, The Hastings Center, wrote, “It will be difficult. Freedom from repression can be maintained, but the freedom to pursue whatever when wants, even when this may harm others, would need to be curtained. Those with the power to exploit the technology will resist such a curtailment.”

Susan Price, lead experience strategist at Firecat Studio, noted, “Reliable attribution is the way forward; verification of news by a number of trusted sources can be the basis of crowdsourced verification, similar to movements of schools of fish or flocks of birds. Individuals need the ability to closely control the release of information of their own data through a human API, and this could form the basis of a workable compromise between privacy and transparency. Anonymity must be available to protect against fascist control.”

Amy Webb, author and founder of the Future Today Institute, wrote, “To be sure, fake news isn’t a new trend – humans have been intentionally misleading each other since our ancestors were living in caves. What’s different in 2017 is that our attentions are shorter, the news cycle is faster and our distribution tools have become democratized. There is no such thing as destiny. That’s good news, because it means we humans have agency. We have a stake in what’s coming next. The future is our shared responsibility in the present. We must engage in a difficult conversation about what constitutes ‘speech’ in the near-future AI age – and whether ‘freedom’ should be interpreted as broadly as it has in the past. Could the founders possibly have imagined a future of algorithmic subterfuge? And what happens when our AI agents start making unsupervised decisions? How do civil liberties laws apply then? The world is vastly complicated – too complicated for many of our current laws. While Congress may not enact a law abridging the freedom of speech, should there be a new terms of service – a new operating agreement –governing how information spreads for the 21st century? I think so.”

Justin Reich, assistant professor of comparative media studies, MIT, noted, “Most forms of fake news are squarely protected under the First Amendment. Social censure will stop fake news, just like social censure has had some effect in curbing common racist, sexist, homophobic speech without curtailing rights.”

Joshua Hatch, president of the Online News Association, noted, “The ‘actual malice’ standard may need to be revisited. Even suggesting that makes me shudder, but I do think that ought to be considered.”

Carol Chetkovich, professor emerita of public policy, Mills College, commented, “We need to have more public conversation about where we draw lines around ‘free speech.’ It’s never been an absolute right, but we are facing particularly difficult challenges now in figuring out how to shape this right. Doing so will require dialogue. I suggest as a starting point thinking about Jurgen Habermas’s ‘ideal speech situation.’”

Stephen Downes, researcher with the National Research Council of Canada, commented, “The big difficulty in any campaign to reduce fake and misleading information will be to define what is real and not misleading. This isn’t a free speech question – we have plenty of safeguards against libel, slander, mischief, et cetera. What we don’t have agreement on is on what counts as true – or, maybe more accurately, how much fabrication is allowed. Should there be criminal prosecutions for denying human-caused climate change? Should people go to jail for advocating boycotts or divestment campaigns? Should religion be required to offer proof of its claims? Et cetera.”

Jack Schofield, longtime technology editor at The Guardian, now a columnist for The Guardian and ZDNet, commented, “I can’t see any way to stop the distribution of fake news for two reasons. First, everyone’s a publisher, in the sense that they can post on social media. Second, some people don’t think they are spreading false information: they genuinely believe crackpot conspiracy theories, and they refuse to accept provable facts. If you correct them, many just double down on their false beliefs. This is a problem that neither education nor honest media can solve.”

Bernie Hogan, senior research fellow, University of Oxford, noted, “Fake news is less an issue than the profiting off of misleading and sensational news that erodes trust in public institutions. This creates the seedbed in which absurdist conspiratorial positions are grown. The notion that we would curtail civil liberties assumes we need real names in order to discipline trolls. Really, we already know that those who are the most nefarious are doing so through legal means, shell companies, lobbyists and legislators. Through legal means they redistribute money and attention, manipulate citizens and callously look askance at unequal outcomes. The threat from Rupert Murdoch’s demonstrably biased ‘reporting’ conglomerate is much greater than some online trolling by foreign actors. Curbing civil liberties is another way of suggesting that the disempowered are the problem and it is their rude online comments that must be disspelled, when it is the powerful who are doing the exploiting.”

Sandro Hawke, technical staff, World Wide Web Consortium, noted, “Absolutely. The only ‘rights’ that have to be curtailed are the ‘rights’ to be anonymous and to lie without consequence, which have never been accepted as rights. There is a value to anonymous whistleblowing, but that has to be managed very carefully for the good of society, and should not be seen as a civil right. There is also a value to being able to speak to millions of people at once, but again, that’s not a right. Our best approach will be to consider how small groups of humans handle fake and misleading information. In these groups, where everybody knows everybody else, people can hold each other to account for gossip, slander, and swindling. In our headline dive into the internet (and even radio and television, as we relaxed regulation), we left behind many of our tools for managing information quality. It will take some work, but we can (and must) bring them back.”

Daniel Menasce, professor of computer science, George Mason University, replied, “The First Amendment allows anyone to express ‘fake news’ as well as to demonstrate that the ‘fake news’ are ‘fake.’ That being the case, no civil rights have to be curtailed. However, the media outlets available to both camps may not be symmetric in terms of reach and may be dominated by conglomerates with self-interests.”

Dan Gillmor, professor at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Communication, Arizona State University, commented, “The answer to the first question is Yes. The answer to the second question is None. The alternative is giving government vastly more power over our most important liberties including freedom of expression and freedom to assemble.”

Matt Armstrong, an independent research fellow working with King’s College, formerly executive director of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, replied, “No rights need to be curtailed. This question pretends we can work around the consumer. The consumer/producer/repeater all must be called out, shown as the agents/naïfs they are. Reducing the demand and success (thus ‘profitability’) will reduce the fake and misleading information. One tactic is to shame the consumers and repeaters, but it requires education and support by leaders from civil society, including education and politics.”

Johanna Drucker, professor of information studies, University of California-Los Angeles, commented, “The dilemma is that all structural controls can be subverted, and that the more malicious and pernicious players are most likely to do so. The most effective method of guaranteeing the future of responsible journalism is through professional organizations and their certification/validation of sources/outlets. We have accreditation in other fields. We may need it in the domain of news and reporting. But what is to stop a bogus organization from setting itself up as an accreditation agency? What political litmus test is applied? How to police partisanship when it aligns with the basic notion of what constitutes verity?”

Larry Diamond, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and FSI, Stanford University, commented, “Yes, I strongly believe that freedom of expression can and must be protected. But this does not mean that any terrorist or propagandist has the right to say literally anything, no matter how violence-inducing or patently false it may be, AND have it be given the same level of search priority and accessibility. I believe we can find a reasonable balance here, and again, that civil society and the internet companies must be in the lead, with government as a consulting but not dictating partner.”

Stephen Bounds, information and knowledge management consultant, KnowQuestion, noted, “The whole premise must be reframed. The terms ‘fake’ and ‘misleading’ are value judgements about the bona fides of a source of information, and the interpretation of information received respectively. Indeed, there are serious logical flaws in any attempt to retain a fact/value dichotomy in relation to information (cf. Firestone, 2006). Societies *already* mandates information sharing or withholding in certain circumstances. Sometimes criminal or private information may not be legally shared. In other circumstances, information *must* be disclosed, as when a person has reasonable suspicions of abusive activity or to allow shareholders to make informed investment decisions. These rules are an attempt to ensure justice and fairness for everyone, where there are incentives for people to act in selfish ways. Mostly laws already exist to prohibit the kinds of acts broadly covered by ‘fake and misleading information.’ The problem is detection and enforcement. ”

Seth Finkelstein, consulting programmer with Seth Finkelstein Consulting, commented, “It’s unclear in this question if low tax rates on the rich are considered a civil liberty. That is, changes can be made to reduce fake and misleading information by massively increasing public funding of academia, nonpartisan expert agencies, holding extensive intellectual events, and so on. For example, there needs to be far more ability to have a financially secure career as a public intellectual, without needing to be an attention-seeking social media hustler or some sort of corporate propagandist. Just as a starting point, let’s have an American implementation of a strong independent and well-funded BBC News, before any thought of curtailing rights. To put it very simply, corporations that make money selling eyeballs to advertisers, don’t, as a rule, care much about what goes into getting those eyeballs in front of the advertising. If market values are the only things that matter, the results are going to be dismal.”

Mark Bunting, visiting academic at Oxford Internet Institute, a senior digital strategy and public policy advisor with 16 years’ experience at the BBC, Ofcom and as a digital consultant, wrote, “The need to draw an appropriate balance between freedom and restraint is not new – it’s been a feature of information environments as long as humans have had the means to communicate to coopt support and coordinate against enemies. The crucial thing is to see this challenge as a matter of degree, not absolutes. The internet has enhanced opportunities for freedom and infringement of rights – we have to recalibrate our instruments for this new world, but we don’t have to invent completely new science.”

Joel Reidenberg, chair and professor of law, Fordham University, wrote, “Freedom of expression and censoring fake and misleading information are mutually exclusive.”

Micah Altman, director of research for the Program on Information Science at MIT, commented, “Supporting an independent media, and a robust information systems that are open, transparent, and traceable to evidence is compatible with civil liberties. Silencing bad speech is not – and doesn’t work.”

Ian O’Byrne, assistant professor at the College of Charleston, replied, “This is one of the main challenges I try to come to terms with in my work. With literacy and technology, with great power comes great responsibility. That is to say that through these technologies, we can achieve great things, we also have spaces where horrible acts and ‘truths’ may proliferate. Anonymity, and the ability of individuals and bots to routinely spawn new accounts leads to a system where anyone can say anything while harming the civil liberties of others. Perhaps ‘real identities’ needs to be pursued, while anonymous, or ‘off the record’ accounts/messages are somehow discredited may help. The end result would then be a discourse system in which everyone is ‘real’ and verified and a second discourse system where all accounts are fake, unverified, et cetera. This ultimately would lead us back to our current situation.”

Jason Hong, associate professor, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, said, “Facebook and Google have the biggest role to play here because they not only make it easier to find misinformation, but also (inadvertently) help incentivize it through ad payments and clicks. As the old saying goes, follow the money. While this won’t stop state-based actors, cutting of advertising revenues for egregious sources of misinformation would severely undercut incentives for a non-trivial portion of fake news. The challenge, of course, is how to draw clear lines as to what is and isn’t fake, and to have a fair process that doesn’t harm potentially legitimate sources of information.”

Tom Birkland, professor of public policy, North Carolina State University, noted, “I don’t think any fundamental rights need to be curtailed. Some changes in civil law to make it easier to prosecute malicious falsehoods – such as the Pizzagate problem – might cause media companies and producers to more carefully vet their information. And since access to platforms like Facebook and Twitter is not a fundamental right, the owners of these networks should be more responsible for the worst kinds of misinformation that is posted in these services.”

Esther Dyson, a former journalist and founding chair at ICANN, now a technology entrepreneur, nonprofit founder and philanthropist, expert, commented, “Yes. The most important is effective education for all. Create resilience to lies rather than trying to destroy all lies.”

Bob Frankston, internet pioneer and software innovator, said, “We need to make critical thinking an essential part of our culture, push back on our worship of ‘winners’ and get a better understanding of the importance of external factors (luck).”

Alan D. Mutter, media consultant and faculty at graduate school of journalism, University of California-Berkeley, replied, “Curtailing free expression would be more dangerous than anything.”

Mark Lemley, professor of law, Stanford University, observed, “There is a great risk in having the government decide what news is real. Just look at who would be making that decision in 2017. When a government has an incentive to promote fake over real news, giving them the power to suppress or select news is a real danger. We are much better served by private, competitive rating systems.”

Patricia Aufderheide, professor of communications, American University, said, “The basic problems are not at the level of the utterance itself but all the political, diplomatic, regulatory and commercial incentives to mislead.”

Bill Woodcock, executive director of the Packet Clearing House, wrote, “The intersection of cryptographic signatures and third-party reputation tracking may provide some relief, provided the reputation tracking is neither completely politically coopted, as is the plan in China, or trivially manipulated by hackers or astroturfers. The combination of PGP and blockchain will probably help a lot. There have been attempts like Diaspora to build a platform on which identities and speech could flourish globally, but I think unfortunately the age of Usenet has passed, and commercial speech is trumping both gratis and libre speech.”

Jane Elizabeth, senior manager American Press Institute, said, “Yes, this can be done in the same way we manage the conflicts inherent in free speech. Yes, it can be messy and difficult, but the First Amendment has been in place since 1791 and all in all, it’s served us pretty well.”

Nate Cardozo, senior staff attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation, observed, “The inevitable outcome of any system that aims to reduce the reach of fake news will be the reduction of expression of all kinds. It’s simply incompatible with free speech.”

Paul Gardner-Stephen, senior lecturer, College of Science & Engineering, Flinders University, noted, “Perhaps the most effective measure would be to encourage critical thinking among the population, and reversing the anti-science movements that have fostered the hyper-subjectivism that has allowed fake news to flourish. In practical terms: The more educated the population, the harder they are to dupe. Legislative measures, such as that recently taken by Germany to penalise social media platforms for failure to remove obviously fake news will help somewhat, but are only short term solutions, and form part of the arms-race. The main advantages in the long term are to remove cost and other barriers to improving educational attainment and finding ways to achieve de-escalation of partisanism in democracies that have led to these naked attempts to maintain power at all costs, rather than the entire political spectrum in these nations accepting that periods in opposition is a normal and healthy part of democracy.”

Jonathan Grudin, principal design researcher, Microsoft, said, “We have always had tremendous quantities of incompatible information, such as conflicting scientific claims or different religions insisting their tenets are true and others false. The solution is to organize the information and its claims and identify its provenance. It will take some time to do this and for people to learn about it. I credit people with the ability to master this. Sites will filter information, but this is not always a civil liberties issue – not everyone could publish in a given journal, for example.”

Jim Warren, an internet pioneer and open-government/open-records/open-meetings advocate, said, “The most crucial ‘right’ that must be curtailed has been, and will be, restricting how much of the information media can be controlled by one entity (governmental or corporate). We have always had fake and misleading information. Its only redress is to assure that others have equivalent opportunities to respond in timely and robust ways, to more or less the same audience.”

Alexander Halavais, associate professor of social technologies, Arizona State University, said, “Implicit here is whether changes may be made in government restrictions, and I don’t think we want public truth police. Justice Brandeis already answered this for us: ‘no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.’ Some of that may consist of meta-speech. Certain people have been better and more consistent in telling the truth over time, and I suspect we will find new ways of identifying them. While it may seem to be a problem of “turtles all the way down,” and certainly efforts to assail the neutrality of, e.g., Snopes suggests that this will be a problem, there are counter-examples in social media, from Wikipedia’s NPOV efforts to Slashdot’s meta-moderation, that suggest that there are ways of creating the equivalent of the Better Business Bureau for truth claims.”

Brooke Binkowski, managing editor of Snopes.com, an online fact-checking site replied, “Invest in a healthy media ecosystem. A free and vibrant and active press is to disinformation what vaccination is to smallpox. Flood out the misinformation, treat reporting as a conversation between the public and democratic institutions, and above all be clear and transparent. That is not just the best way; it’s the ONLY way.”

Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, noted, “We have to arm people with media literacy and the technological skills to navigate the digital world and overcome fear of information systems. People give away freedom when afraid. Once given away, it’s hard to get back.”

Diana Ascher, information scholar at the University of California-Los Angeles, observed, “We have seen that until systemic discrimination is addressed even new means of documentation that provide ‘incontrovertible’ evidence will be of little value in holding authorities accountable for violations of civil rights. For example, video footage of police brutality in the deaths of people of color has done little to dismantle structural racism, despite widespread news coverage. In 2016, there were 1,092 police killings of African Americans in the United States. Thus far, not one officer has been convicted. The Federalist direction in which the Trump administration has moved only exacerbates this through the creation of systems to identify and track populations of color.”

David A. Bernstein, a marketing research professional, said, “Yes, I believe it is possible by assigning some sort of a truth or consistency score to statements similar to what we saw by FactCheck during the past political debates). Why can’t we create a system that would be the Consumer Reports of fact checking. I do not see any civil rights or freedom of speech problems. You can still say what you please, but then you have to live with the scoring by an independent scoring agency.”

Matt Stempeck, a director of civic technology, noted, “There is definitely a tension to be found in curtailing misleading information, especially using automated or semi-automated methods and truly free speech.”

Dave Burstein, editor of FastNet.news, said, “Any system will make it much harder to comment anonymously and free from government. Going beyond fraud to hateful or false claims inevitably will censor a great deal of legitimate commentary, I believe. The volume posted on the Net is so much, with algorithms inevitably overreaching and inaccurate, is the only practical technique.”

John Markoff, retired journalist formerly technology reporter for the New York Times, said, “This will be an enduring paradox. I believe we can have a more ‘secure’ computing universe, but only at the expense of traditional civil liberties.”

Sam Punnett, research officer, TableRock Media, replied, “Unfortunately the only way to reduce misleading information is for there to be consequences for its knowing creation. It is difficult to foresee how the future of the news media will evolve (particularly in the United States) given the continuous stream of contradictory statements and lies issuing from formerly reliable institutions such as the US presidency. There will likely be eventual consequences but the fourth estate and government institutions in the US are struggling to adapt. Freedom of the press and free speech in a democracy are sacrosanct. Speech is not something you can easily legislate – neither is media consumption. In a democracy you have the freedom to be uninformed and the freedom to only consume what feeds your existing biases. The consequences may well be to lose your democracy, herein lies the paradox.”

Greg Lloyd, president and co-founder of Traction Software, wrote, “First, reduce economic incentive to spread fake news pressuring advertisers (social, legal). Some public forums may require authentication to participate – or even read. New regulation based on “false advertising” principles might work. Individual’s personal rights can be preserved, with existing libel, hate speech, threat, blackmail, et cetera, laws.”

Evan Selinger, professor of philosophy, Rochester Institute of Technology, wrote, “To comment on but a fraction of what’s at stake in this question, the balance between reducing fake information and preserving civil liberties is a contextual issue. In the context of corporate platforms, like Facebook, there are two important things to keep in mind. First, the idea that Facebook is merely a conduit for user-generated communication has outlived its expiration date; it’s laughably implausible. Second, normative consequences follow from acknowledging that Facebook’s curatorial power is a mechanism of techno-social engineering that affects what people see, believe and think. For starters, since that power is deployed through algorithmic governance, there are good reasons to believe that greater transparency should exist and less weight should be given to the ideal that valuing corporate secrecy requires making black-boxed software sacrosanct.”

Wendy Seltzer, strategy lead and counsel for the World Wide Web Consortium, replied, “No. We can change how we react to information. That – over the long term – can change how misinformation spreads.”

Irene Wu, adjunct professor of communications, culture and technology, Georgetown University, said, “We need media leaders in civil society, business and government to provide information on topics they want to hear about in a way that appeals to them in a manner that demonstrates the credibility and validity of the reporting. Maybe it’s time to make more explicit the number of sources a journalist is using to write a report – two if on the record (with their credentials), one if off the record, corroborated by statistics from which institution. Can you put a badge on an article that lists these, like a nutrition label on a cereal box? I think the good reporting needs to be highlighted more. Curtailing civil liberties does nothing to improve the quality of public discourse.”

Alexios Mantzarlis, director of the International Fact-Checking Network based at Poynter Institute for Media Studies, commented, “Truly ‘fake’ information should be relatively easy to address without real consequences on civil liberties. Email largely defeated spam, for instance. But the misinformation space is a lot broader than totally fabricated stuff, as is made perhaps most clear by the taxonomy developed by Claire Wardle of First Draft. Truth comes in shades of gray and every item of information can be deemed at least somewhat misleading by someone. I am wary of any solutions that suggests basic legal rights need to be curtailed.”

Rajnesh Singh, Asia-Pacific director for an internet policy and standards organization, observed, “Such a solution may entail some form of control, and that will always put civil liberties at risk. As the online population grows this will get more complicated.”

Marina Gorbis, executive director of the Institute for the Future, said, “Yes. What is driving proliferation of misleading and sensationalist information are business models behind the main media channels. Reliance on advertising dollars and the drive to attract ‘eyeballs’ create a media environment that is not driven by public interest but rather by financial goals. Today Wikipedia, a nonprofit commons-based platform is the most unbiased and well-functioning media outlet we have. There are lessons from Wikipedia in how we need to evolve our media environment.”

Patrick Lambe, principal consultant, Straits Knowledge, noted, “Yes. Machine intelligence and knowledge organisation techniques, together with human supervision are now smart enough to identify characteristics of false messaging based on the message and its manner of diffusion alone, without attending to privacy of originators or diffusers. Without diffusion, the incentive to create false messaging evaporates.”

Daniel Kreiss, associate professor of communication, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, commented, “I do not think the issues are legal, so I do not think civil liberties or rights are really at issue. The news media can, and should, change its patterns of coverage to: 1) Represent a broader range of intra-party and intra-social group debate and diversity of thought, especially when factual issues are at stake. 2) Highlight intra-party critiques of elites, especially when the veracity of information is at stake. 3) Hire more journalists from the communities media outlets serve to deliver information and correctives in an identity-congruous way to audiences. And 4) make a solid distinction between freedom of speech and freedom of the press, with the latter being delimited to speech that the public needs to hear (which means not covering misinformation). Technology platforms should think about more transparency in terms of their policies around expression, make more data available around these issues, and think more creatively about how social identity shapes epistemology, not simply rely on professional journalism outlets.”

Steven Miller, vice provost for research, Singapore Management University, wrote, “Maybe total unrestricted civil liberties are not the number-one priority. Maybe there are some reasonable trade-offs between absolute civil liberties (so-called freedom of speech and expression) with responsibilities for accuracy, verification, validation. In other words, in the US now, there is ‘freedom of speech,’ but no requirement that people be responsible for what they say. This is an odd type of freedom, and does not necessarily serve the needs of the society as a whole. So there needs to be a stronger linkage between the freedom and the responsibility. I do not see this as a curtailment, but as an alignment that has been needed for a long time now.”

Eric Burger, research professor of computer science and director of the Georgetown Center for Secure Communications in Washington, DC, replied, “Who defines ‘fake news’? Censorship that seems benign is the door to censorship that is malignant.”

Barry Wellman, internet sociologist and virtual communities expert and co-director of the NetLab Network, said, “I don’t trust self-serving governments deciding what’s false and misleading information. I’d rather freedom of speech be preserved.”

David Manz, a cybersecurity scientist, replied, “Why do people assume security vs. freedom is a tradeoff? Privacy and security are on the same side. You cannot have privacy without security. INsecurity is opposed to privacy. This will not require any curtailment. Rather it will, again require a populous who wants to know where their information comes from. And a mechanism to share that information. Something as simple as Google serach response of advertisements and legitimate results. Most savvy users can discern the difference easily. Alternatively we can have complex roots of trust with certificates and authorities to validate from reporter to bureau, to editor, to consortium to outlet to reader.”

Hjalmar Gislason, vice president of data for Qlik, noted, “We must tread lightly when it comes to policy or legal changes preventing people from publishing or distributing misleading information. Educating people on information literacy and facilitating systems that help rate or rank the accuracy of information found online is more important. In other words: People should have the right to publish nonsense, but other people should also have available to them tools to understand the veracity of information they come across.”

Raymond Hogler, professor of management, Colorado State University, replied, “All increases in trust come at the cost of decreases in liberty.”

Brian Cute, longtime internet executive and ICANN participant, said, “I don’t support curtailing civil liberties as a solution to societal challenges.”

Steve McDowell, professor of communication and information at Florida State University, replied, “The tasks and social roles of journalists as trusted reporters and commentators may become more important, in that we might also ask them to provide an assessment of the quality of information or claims and statements in stories. This information about procedures should be provided to the public. If technical means or organizational procedures are adopted by social media sites to filter or block information, these sites should be transparent about how their automated systems or organizational procedures operate. Just as with child protection web-blocking software, there will be over-blocking based on keywords, or underblocking. Software will have ongoing learning capabilities built in, but may be behind human actors with specific agendas.”

Bart Knijnenburg, researcher on decision-making and recommender systems and assistant professor of computer science at Clemson University, said, “There are too many people nowadays who don’t understand that freedom of speech is not the same as having a right to claim a platform. If your speech is asinine, hateful or plain wrong, you cannot be angry at others for denying your voice to be heard.”

Laurel Felt, lecturer at the University of Southern California, wrote, “We don’t want to impose a prior restraint on speech. That would violate our right to freedom of speech. Through [many] mechanisms… users can choose to receive information about a source’s trust rating. In terms of mainstream broadcast news, perhaps a fee can be levied when an organization shares uncredible information.”

Jonathan Brewer, consulting engineer for Telco2, commented, “Any changes in social media platforms attempting to reduce fake and/or misleading information will only be as effective as local markets allow them to be.”

Michael R. Nelson, public policy executive with Cloudflare, replied, “We can definitely preserve civil liberties unless we extend to eliminate all misinformation. Doing that would require eliminating anonymity online in order to deploy effective reputation systems, which would highlight misleading or bogus information. But the end of anonymity would limit free speech, particularly in countries where repressive government censor or arrest journalists or bloggers.”

Andrew Odlyzko, professor of math and former head of the University of Minnesota’s Supercomputing Institute, observed, “The past offers a guide: Development of (relatively) trustworthy, but never totally reliable, sources, such as some newspapers, encyclopedias, scholarly peer-review system, et cetera.’

Janet Kornblum, a writer/journalist, investigator and media trainer, replied, “I will always side with civil rights and liberties. Should someone be jailed for spreading lies? I suppose it goes back to the existing laws (at least in the United States). Does that speech directly cause harm (yelling fire in a crowded theater)? But it’s VERY VERY dangerous to curtail free speech. I oppose it.”

Glenn Edens, CTO for Technology Reserve at Xeroz/PARC, said, “Better internet protocols could help (CCNx for example where publishers can be verified), however this does address the issue of what sources individuals choose to trust. The solutions do appear to be as bad as the problem, especially related to free speech and civil liberties. Even a ‘rating’ system of trusted sources is questionable – rated by who?”

Tom Rosenstiel, author, director of the American Press Institute, senior non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution, commented, “I strongly doubt changes can be made in any structural way to reduce fake and misleading information. The platform companies may make some efforts, but those will collide to some degree with other values they have about open communities and to some extent collide with their revenue models, which favor intense engagement. There is a bias there toward strong emotion, both cheering and panicky. In theory, there could be regulatory efforts to blunt this, but in reality there is nothing to suggest any political environment in which such regulations would be enacted. We have been moving away from that now for 40 years, and the signs at the moment point toward that only continuing further. By the time the political system would be ready to address this problem, the problem would have changed. And absent that, the efforts by platform and distribution companies to police their own landscapes will be unable to keep up with those who want to deceive or misuse the web and those efforts will be muted in any case.’

David Wood, a UK-based futurist at Delta Wisdom, said, “Yes, it will likely remain possible to have private, confidential conversations, alongside those which are publicly verified as associated with a given person.”

Deirdre Williams, retired internet activist, replied, “Fake and misleading information is powerful because of the current capability, provided by communications technology, for it to propagate. The solution, if any, depends on re-creating human trust and human trust networks, and the loss of the ‘lazy right’ to consider that the headline from a ‘reliable’ source is the truth, without trying to do any supporting research.”

Serge Marelli, an IT professional who works on and with the Net, wrote, “The right to lie to oneself, the right to be stupid. The right to (choose to) keep believing in something/anything false *despite facts*. The right to believe in ‘alternate facts,’ The right to believe in ‘creationism.’ The right to mix-up fiction and reality.”

Paul Saffo, longtime Silicon Valley-based technology forecaster, commented, “This has always been a balancing act and the future will be no different. Recall (US Supreme Court Justice) Oliver Wendell Holme’s famous dictum about shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. This time we are balancing on a digital razor’s edge, where acts that are innocuous in the physical world have outsized consequences in cyberspace. We all need to remember that with rights come responsibilities, and the more potent the right, the greater the burden to behave responsibly.”

Geoff Scott, CEO of Hackerati, commented, “Fake and misleading information is being used to degrade civil liberties. The only way to reduce fake and misleading information and restore civil liberties is to ensure that the vast majority of people do not believe it.”

Michele Walfred, a communications specialist at the University of Delaware, said, “The concern in policing is having a police state and condemning free expression one that does not agree with as ‘fake.’ Opinion and satire needs to be labeled because although it should be intuitive or obvious, it isn’t. Knowing the identity of the publishers, their investors or backers should be fully disclosed. People are allowed to have left or right views. People are allowed to be vegan or not, et cetera. Skepticism of factual, peer-reviewed, researched articles is growing. Say what you want, but there should be a Better Business Bureau-type rating system – but who does that rating? It is a troublesome situation – when is an opinion a lie and an untruth? I don’t know.”

Jeff Jarvis, professor at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, commented, “Free speech includes the right to edit, to chose what one shares. So I see no threat to the civil right of free speech in encouraging both publishers and platforms to account for – as Google has said – reliability, authority and quality in their ranking and distribution of information and content. I see no problem in discouraging advertisers from financially supporting misinformation and fraud. And I see no problem in encouraging the public to share responsibly.”

Richard Jones, a self-employed business owner based in Europe, said, “Selective out-of-context information is embedded in human nature to manipulate. It is not new. However politicisation whether by media channels such as RT [the first Russian English-language news channel, which delivers a Russian view of global news] has been leapfrogged by users of social media. The idea of privacy sieving ideas before publicising them has not been adopted in the behaviour of many young. And amongst all groups instant communication is used to attempt to recruit for causes or disseminate propaganda. Awareness needs to be improved, gullibility reduced. Religious and political texts have always sought to conscript people’s minds. The Gideons placed Bibles in hotels, Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on doors, the end of the world was announced on sandwichboards on Oxford street. The difference is in volume, accessibility and gullibility.”

Greg Wood, director of communications planning and operations for the Internet Society, replied, “Centralized systems for authenticating or verifying information would seem to be unworkable and, as history has demonstrated time and again, incompatible with the individual civil liberties. A distributed approach to at least authenticating the sources of information might be possible.”

Helen Holder, distinguished technologist for HP, said, “Restrictions on the publication of patently false information probably cannot be done without infringing on civil liberties, except in cases of fraudulent advertising or incitement to violence. Despite the obviously negative impacts of trolls and other misinformation generators, it would be nearly impossible to curtail or censor them if no fraud or violence were involved because although there is a generalized damage to society from these practices, the direct, specific harm from each source is small and would be difficult to assess or prove.”

Jim Rutt, research fellow and past chairman of the Santa Fe Institute and former CEO of Network Solutions, replied, “A Real Name ID policy rigorously enforced is the strongest relatively easy play. Unfortunately has some negative impact outside of The West, and perhaps in it as well.”

Tim Bray, senior principal technologist for Amazon.com, observed, “No rights need to be curtailed; the question is silly.”

Joseph Turow, professor of communication, University of Pennsylvania, commented, “Some social media firms are trying out algorithms aimed at identifying bad actors, not just content, by the size and formulation of their message traffic. But the statistical nature of this activity inevitably means good actors will be identified incorrectly. If governments get involved the cure might exacerbate the disease. Unscrupulous politicians in the US and elsewhere would inevitably look for ways to tar opponents with the fake-news or (especially) weaponized fake information label and thereby pollute the media environment even more.”

Brad Templeton, chair emeritus of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, “In the US and many places, freedom of the press must be maintained. That means systems that tag misleading information will not be legally required, but this does not mean they can’t be commonly used. However, there will be those who correctly and incorrectly criticise the flags of such systems as politicized, which will drive some away from them.”

Christian H. Huitema, past president of the Internet Architecture Board, commented, “I am very worried that in the name of ‘banning fake information’ we will get some kind of ‘thought police.’ Or maybe just speech codes.”

Filippo Menczer, professor of informatics and computing, Indiana University, noted, “Trusted news standards and their technological implementation and enforcement must strike a balance between free speech and the right not to be deceived. The two can coexist.”

Bryan Alexander, futurist and president of Bryan Alexander Consulting, replied, “Some on all sides of the political spectrum will doubtless find curtailing the right to expression, and for a variety of reasons, including national security and hate speech. However, we can reduce the influence of fake news by teaching digital literacy to individuals, so that they can make better decisions.”

Susan Hares, a pioneer with the NSFNet and longtime internet engineering strategist, now a consultant, said, “Technology can double-check information. Academic systems already check attributions or plagiarism. Computer systems can highlight plagiarism, quotes that are wrong, incorrect facts and correct details. Civil rights do not have to be curtailed. Websites can choose to not publish erroneous information. Legal suits can be allowed against web sites that publish erroneous information. Individuals can choose to refuse to use websites that provide erroneous information. I currently refuse to watch News Channels with a high bias. I do not buy products from companies that sponsor these new channels.”

Mike Roberts, pioneer leader of ICANN and Internet Hall of Fame member, replied, “The First Amendment provides a lot of space for argument over its rights and obligations. Other countries have stronger defamation and libel laws, and moving ours in that direction should be considered.”

David Sarokin of Sarokin Consulting, author of “Missed Information,” said, “Curtailing civil liberties presumes a government role. I think corporations and non-profits are likely to have the biggest role here.”

Jerry Michalski, futurist and founder of REX, replied, “We may need stronger identity authentication for people posting information, which will reduce the rights of people who want to remain anonymous. But I think we can find solutions that don’t do much more harm than that.”

Paul Jones, director of ibiblio.org, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, noted, “Certification of publishers, but not licensing, using technologies such as blockchain could make brands responsible to the public with out curtailing rights Americans hold dear. Responsibilities should be the focus rather than *only* rights.”

John Wilbanks, chief commons officer, Sage Bionetworks, replied, “It’s unwise to conflate how private companies monetize speech with ‘the public sphere.’”

Alejandro Pisanty, a professor at UNAM, the National University of Mexico, and longtime internet policy leader, observed, “A new social compact has to be arrived at; not being lied to has to become a right on a par with all others. Curtailing rights will not work. A better-educated society is the only way ‘good’ actors may force ‘bad’ actors to limit their malfeasance.”

J. Nathan Matias, a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University, previously a visiting scholar at MIT Center for Civic Media, said, “The most powerful, enduring ways to limit misinformation expand the use of civil liberties by growing our collective capacities for understanding. In my research with large news discussion communities for example, encouraging people toward critical thinking and fact-checking reduced the human and algorithmic spread of articles from unreliable sources.”

Charlie Firestone, executive director, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, commented, “We should not have to curtail civil liberties. Free societies have always faced fake or false information. Actions such as curtailing advertising to such statements and increased media literacy should help in bringing about the desired result without curtailing liberties.”

David J. Krieger, director of the Institute for Communication & Leadership, Lucerne, Switzerland, commented, “We must move away from ideas of privacy as secrecy, anonymity and disguise and create trust-based networks in order to maintain freedom, autonomy and human dignity in the digital age.”

Adrian Schofield, an applied research manager based in Africa, commented, “The notion of civil liberties is false. No one person can have rights because they come at the expense of another person’s rights. There should be no rights, only responsibilities. If each one of use can be held accountable for our own behaviour, there will be no victims. The passive majority lives in this fashion.”

Riel Miller, an international civil servant who works as team leader in futures literacy for UNESCO, commented, “If a sucker is born every minute does that mean a warning label needs to be smacked on the false goods every minute? Challenge is to equip the user; they must learn to fish.”

Larry Keeley, founder of innovation consultancy Doblin, observed, “Of course. Imagine a world where information shared digitally has an embedded bar code, and when you read it, it takes you to the audit data for the information being shared, revealing the total confidence interval and all the sources, each with their audit information and confidence intervals revealed. This happens all the time now for some fields. It is inevitable for the best information systems too.”

Mercy Mutemi, legislative advisor for the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, observed, “Controlling fake news whilst preserving civil liberties is a balancing act. This would mean deliberately denying some posters the right to post information online. It would definitely mean compromising the freedom of expression and in a way the right to access information.”

Brian Harvey, teaching professor emeritus at the University of California-Berkeley, said, “Anonymity is a prerequisite for non-fake news; think Pentagon Papers, Deep Throat, NSA malware. The only ‘right’ whose curtailment would help the quality of public information would be the right of accumulation of capital.”

Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, said, “The right to lie and the right to misstate information might been to be curtailed, with fines or loss of access to public airwaves and/or cable, internet. I don’t think the use of public airwaves (broadcast television/radio/Sinclair-type ownership) should be granted to those shown to have used them to disseminate false information.”

Erhardt Graeff, a sociologist doing research on technology and civic engagement at the MIT Media Lab, said, “Avoiding trampling on civil rights, particularly the strong definition of freedom of speech in America, will be extremely tricky. Following President Trump’s repeated accusations of fake news from American journalists, leaders less unencumbered by strong civil rights statutes in their own countries quickly adopted the ‘fake news’ frame to go after inconvenient journalists by creating new regulations such as whitelists for approved news organizations. Any attempt to regulate misinformation that appeals to the ‘common or public good’ or classifies comments as reckless or negligent can and will be manipulated by policymakers to police dissent. Privacy protection is another obvious target that could erode in the name of fighting misinformation. Journalists’ shield laws have started taking a beating, but we should expect that attempts to root out anonymous and pseudonymous sources of misinformation online could undermine the privacy of all users and creating chilling effects on free speech. As the issue of online harassment has shown, there is a need to revisit how we conceive of civil liberties in these contexts, but we must proceed with extreme caution.”

Nick Ashton-Hart, a public policy professional based in Europe, commented, “The idea of balance between other priorities and civil liberties is a false one. Rights are not something we use as currency; they are integral. We need to approach rights and other public policy goals from a win-win perspective, where solutions to problems reinforce rights, not reduce them.”

Michael Rogers, principal at the Practical Futurist, wrote, “This is a bigger problem than even the technology, especially for democracies. There would need to be complete transparency around reasons for information rejection, as well as a public appeal process. There are precedents within democracies for fake information control, such as Holocaust denial. Achieving a system that respects civil liberties would require a very careful coordination of technologists and elected officials.”

Jennifer Urban, professor of law and director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at the University of Calfifornia – Berkeley, said, “We have existing legal models that deal with false information (fraud, defamation) and with other types of harmful information (e.g., harassment). What we do not yet have is a way to scale these rules to the internet. But if we can develop that, then yes, we can better reduce false information while leaving in place the current protections for civil liberties. We should not assume that we have to curtail civil rights to address this problem. It seems unlikely that curtailing civil rights would work – see every authoritarian regime that struggles with activists’ commentary – and there would be a greater loss.”

Rich Ling, professor of media technology, School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, said, “Controlling of false news implies that the operators of internet channels (such as Facebook, et cetera) need to actively take responsibility for the material that is posted on their sites. They must act more as editors of information and less as managers of an uncontrolled information channel.”

Barry Chudakov, founder and principal, Sertain Research and StreamFuzion Corp., wrote, “To preserve civil liberties while reducing fake and misleading information, we bump headlong into the need for information standards. We have a constitutional Bill of Rights not because one day in 1789 James Madison decided it might be nice to have; we have the Bill of Rights because our personal rights were being abused and early Americans needed to be persuaded that the federal government would respect their basic rights.

“We now need an Information Bill of Rights with international signatories.

“We need to take into account the ubiquity of personal information and tracking; we need to institutionalize information watchdogs who will review collection and revelation standards from both programmed AI and live captures. We are in a new world and we need new-world tools and standards to establish protocols and protections. Included in the Information Bill of Rights should be such protections as: freedom of the press’ sources named and unnamed; the right to both protect and disseminate information for the public good; the right to know who is collecting data on you, or anyone, and the right to see all levels of that data – to name a few.

“The democratization of data brings with it the responsibility to establish widely adopted governance protocols. According to EMC: “by 2020 [the digital universe will contain] nearly as many digital bits as there are stars in the universe. It is doubling in size every two years, and by 2020 the digital universe – the data we create and copy annually – will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes.” While these sums are mind-boggling, even more boggling is that we are letting this information ship go without steering, without a rudder. We can preserve civil liberties once we establish a set of standards for collection, transparency, transmission, and other key issues.
This is a self-service data invasion “created by everyone using a digital camera, by the more than 2 billion people and millions of enterprises living their lives and doing their work online, and by the millions of sensors and communicating devices sending and receiving data over the Internet.”  [EMC]

“Before we consider what, if any, rights might have to be curtailed, we should assess where we are – namely in the weeds. We have taken a laissez faire attitude to one of the most powerful forces ever unleashed by humans: exponentially multiplying information and information collection and manipulation systems.

“Once we have formulated, and there is broad adoption of, an Information Bill of Rights, the next step to reduce fake and misleading information is to educate as well as inform. Free citizens in the new information environment have a unique imperative: we all must be information omnivores because we now see clearly that information does not have a neutral intent; bad actors are using misinformation to effect their agendas. Just as we educate children about personal hygiene and proper nutrition, from an early age, we must teach our children – and then insist on adults in positions of authority – that they balance information sources and facts from a broad stream of media.

“Narrowcasting is the enemy of freedom. Broadcasting, and broad thinking, will preserve democratic perspectives and voices.”

Constance Kampf, a researcher in computer science and mathematics, said, “Why focus on reducing rather than exposing? The notion of reducing appears to rely on an underlying assumption that there is a centralized process of reducing fake and misleading information. That is contrary to civil liberties. It is in the contradicting, interconnected, and multiperspective fray of ideas that critically thinking minds are able to engage with, call out and discuss misleading information. For example, underlying assumptions in questions like how our rights should be curtailed offers an example of misleading information. These questions are unreflected and unacademic in nature. I hope that you will examine your underlying assumptions. Information and knowledge are not the same thing. People need to be continually developing their knowledge, and fake and misleading information are a challenge that we need civil society to overcome. No technology can think for us, and no platform can replace critically engaged citizens. That said, a look into the fourth estate and the state of journalism today, as well as the dominance of Google and YouTube as search engines that deliver information and use algorithms which affect access to information does call for rethinking. I think Google’s right to experiment with algorithms affecting access to internet information should be publically and critically examined with its’ role in directing the publics’ attention. Is it appropriate for these algorithms to be privately controlled? So tech companies rights should be examined, but freedom of speech for individuals should remain a priority–with the same level of responsibility that the U.S. legal system currently gives for slander and endangerment.”

Henning Schulzrinne, professor and chief technology officer for Columbia University, said, “Private platforms can strengthen the ability to determine the source and their trustworthiness, e.g., by scoring their lifetime factual truth average. Best practices for corrections and challenges, similar to the security responsible disclosures model, may work. There might be a way to tie this to campaign finance reform, to the extent that the candidate solicits or pays for fake news.”

Ian Peter, internet pioneer, historian and activist, observed, “There is an assumption here that the spread of information via social media could somehow be curtailed or controlled. But when things go viral, many people unwittingly contribute to the spread of fake news. Add to this the use of ‘bubbles’ and algorithmic feeds that send you what algorithms suggest you might want to believe; you then have a messy situation. No laws ever stopped gossip, and no laws are likely to curtail fake news.”

Peter Eckart, director of health and information technology, Illinois Public Health Institute, replied, “This is the central conflict with lies: they can only be addressed by the truth, and that has to be absolutely transparent. There can be no curtailing of rights in order to address false speech. Free speech is essential to freedom. Hell, right now, it’s the only thing we’ve got going for us.”

Peter Levine, associate dean and professor, Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University, observed, “Overwhelming bad information with good information will always work better than curtailing anyone’s liberties.”

Sean Justice, assistant professor at Texas State University-San Marcos, “This again is an historical question. There are so many unstated or tacit assumptions here (about ‘fake’ ‘liberties’ ‘curtailed’) that I find it impossible to reply other than with this skeptical meta response, which I suspect was not the goal of the survey – or maybe it was).”

Alf Rehn, chair of management and organization studies, Åbo Akademi University, commented, “There are of course potential privacy issues, which need to be taken into account. In fact, the question scares me – fake news should not be used as a reason to curtail rights and liberties. Other means must be found.”

Bill Jones, chairman of Global Village Ltd., observed, “Changes cannot be made which preserve civil liberties. Even the US constitution is far from perfect from a civil liberties perspective. I prefer the UK’s principle-based common law to the US and other rule-driven civil law systems. Curtailing rights is very much context-driven so one can’t provide an answer to curtailing rights.”

Neville Brownlee, associate professor of computer science at the University of Auckland, said, “I believe this is possible, but individuals will need to become much more aware of how the information they receive in distributed and controlled.”

David Conrad, a chief technology officer, replied, “In theory yes, e.g., one could imagine a system of digital signatures and reputation scoring, in combination with privacy shielding technologies, however such changes would require significant behavioral changes by both information producers and consumers, which is likely to be both prohibitively expensive and very difficult to implement in any significant scale.”

Steve Axler, a user-experience researcher, replied, “It would involve censorship and the answer to this question depends on a person’s feelings about that.”

Scott MacLeod, founder and president of World University and School, replied, “Ask greatest (democratically-oriented) universities to play the role of arbiters, and provide the computer scientists to help make this happen. Write effective laws for this to protect civil liberties, if this is possible. Preserve the potential for hacking as free speech to generate successful responses in order to reduce fake and misleading information.”

Morihiro Ogasahara, associate professor at Kansai University, said, “Yes, I believe it, while privacy might have to be curtailed.”

Jon Lebkowsky, web consultant/developer, author and activist, commented, “I don’t really see censorship or suppression as viable solutions. We often say that the best way to address bad speech is with more speech; I would approach the problem with that in mind.”

Stuart Elliott, visiting scholar at the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, observed, “Yes, this can be done in a way that preserves civil liberties. As noted above, use of trusted information sources is a well-established solution that individuals can control themselves.”

Tanya Berger-Wolf, professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, wrote, “Verification and transparency enhancing tools are much more realistic than forceful limiting of the spread of misinformation.”

Michael J. Oghia, an author, editor and journalist based in Europe, said, “Absolutely, I don’t see it as having to be lose/lose. We can implement solutions that respect human rights and civil liberties but also tackle this problem. Education is key, and media and digital literacy training is key. Genuine, multistakeholder collaboration is also required, so that whatever the outcome is, all vested parties have a voice in both the deliberations and decision-making.”

Peter Jones, associate professor in strategic foresight and innovation at OCAD University, Toronto, commented, “All ‘facts’ are socially constructed. People have perspectives. We need something like a multi-perspectival review service, such as we have developed for scientific works (which are also socially constructed). Multiple perspectives on observations and reporting can be produced by crowd-analysis and good editorial vetting. We just don’t do this today because 1) it doesn’t pay media to do this and 2) media is co-opted by corporations that control the message. Much of the news in today’s complex, volatile reality goes against corporate agendas. We need news services that are not incentivized to control public opinion.”

Kenneth R. Fleischmann, associate professor at the University of Texas- Austin School of Information, wrote, “My biggest concern in this regard is in terms of who will have the ability and credibility of making these determinations. In general, I trust mainstream media journalists, but there have been cases of egregious fabrication such as Jayson Blair. In general, I trust government, but many governments worldwide intentionally disseminate false information, and I doubt that our own government has a perfect record in this regard. I would personally have even less trust in large corporations. Ultimately, policing the line between fact and opinion, and then further policing the line between true and false facts, and finally between false facts that are disseminated intentionally or accidentally, seems beyond the ability of any current human or computational system.”

Liam Quin, an information specialist with the World Wide Web Consortium, said, “Rights have to be balanced by responsibilities. Since I’m not in the US, I perceive that community is more important than individual rights.”

Ben Justice, professor and chair in Rutgers University’s department of educational theory, policy and administration, observed, “One of the most pernicious ideas about free speech is that the First Amendment allows for totally unfettered expression. This is false. Speech in constrained in many ways. You cannot lie about the contents of something you are selling. You cannot use words to intentionally harm people (shouting fire in a crowded room, threatening to kill someone, et cetera), committing perjury or libel. These are all constraints on speech. While complex, I do not see creating regulations around information flow (similar to food labels) as being a radical departure from civil liberties.”

Mark P. Hahn, a chief technology officer, wrote, “Follow the PGP model, but with easier tools. Prevent centralized powers from subverting or banning encryption. Individual people need to have secrets that they can keep from powerful interests like governments, NGOs, politicians, corporations, universities; any entity where power is concentrated.”

Scott Guthrey, publisher for Docent Press, said, “It can’t be done with or without the preservation of civil liberties. Suppose a group of cat fanciers publish a newsletter that is filled with fake and misleading information about cats. Who, pray, would take it upon themselves to pre-edit the newsletter? A government bureaucracy?”

Andrew Dwyer, an expert in cybersecurity and malware at the University of Oxford, commented, “I do not believe the way to reduce fake and misleading information has an impact on civil liberties – this discussion has previously been had over the connection between privacy and security. If we curtail over civil liberties, what are we protecting? What is the point of protecting something that is unrecognisable to our values? Fake and misleading information has to be lead by building trust in recognisable platforms and organisations – and for that to be developed alongside education to ensure robust awareness – otherwise there is no point.”

Michael P. Cohen, a principal statistician, replied, “In some cases, the need to correct false alleged information may impinge on privacy.”

Dean Willis, consultant for Softarmor Systems, commented, “The only ‘option’ is to eliminate free speech, which of course guarantees that the misinformation will have free range. There’s no answer. At the best, we can try to improve critical thinking skills in the educational system; but given that The Powers That Be do not want their subjects developing critical thinking skills, that’s not going to happen.”

Axel Bruns, professor at the Digital Media Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology, commented, “Fundamentally, this isn’t a technological or legislative challenge, but an educational one. There is an acute need to enhance media literacies amongst the general public, especially in relation to digital and social media. Yes, the spreading of egregious misinformation should be addressed with punitive measures where necessary, but libel, hate-speech and other laws already exist, as do platform policies prohibiting certain content. These could evolve further, and could certainly be better enforced, but the real answer to combatting misinformation is in enabling more people to see through it. This is a matter of media literacy, and requires a strong educational response.”

Sharon Tettegah, professor at the University of Nevada, commented, “Yes, fake and misleading information should be based on opinion sites only. As with research studies there should be reliability and validity measures using machine learning.”

John Lazzaro, a retired electrical engineering and computing sciences professor from the University of California-Berkeley, wrote, “No, I don’t think it’s possible to preserve pluralistic discourse in a medium while applying automated censorship tools. The cure is worse than the disease.”

Mike Meyer, chief information officer at University of Hawaii, wrote, “Civil liberties can be maintained but privacy in public communication and transactions will need to visible.”

George Siemens, professor at LINK Research Lab at the University of Texas-Arlington, commented, “Yes, civil liberties can be preserved while purging misleading information. If we treat misinformation like we now treat spam, similar mechanisms for reducing its flow are possible: ‘falsehood filter,’ security notifications when navigating to a site (such as Google search does now when accessing an ‘insecure’ site.”

Tom Valovic, Technoskeptic magazine, noted, “This requires further study for an accurate answer.”

Philip J. Nickel, lecturer at Eindhoven University of Technology, said, “I don’t think the changes are likely to be very effective, because they will not affect the underlying causes of the problem. Hence it is probably not worth trying to place limits on free speech without addressing the underlying problem.”

Miguel Alcaine, International Telecommunication Union Area Representative for Central America, commented, “The blurring between online and offline provides an answer. Societies take different approaches to promote and protect civil liberties. Societies will in the long run perform equivalent actions online and offline regarding civil liberties.”

Shane Greenstein, professor at Harvard Business School, noted, “We have already started to see gated comments and moderated discussions in many forums to prevent the ‘Redditization’ (e.g., coarsening) of online conversation. I would not be surprised to see the emergence of clubs and groups to further that goal for those who want it, as well as other privatization of other ‘correlates with civil liberties.’”

Sharon Haleva-Amir, lecturer in the School of Communication, Bar Ilan University, Israel, said, “Perhaps the right to free speech. If we want to prevent people from spreading misleading information then in some way we are curtailing their right to free speech. Nevertheless, referring to John Stuart Mill’s thesis “On Liberty,” a person is entitled to do whatever he wants as long as he doesn’t hurt anyone else. That’s the essence of liberty and liberalism. But as Mill’s exemplifies in his essay – If a man wants to shout ‘there’s fire in the barn’ although there isn’t and his statement will risk people’s lives, then he is not allowed to say that. It is the same rational here – misleading information is dangerous to society and therefore it is justifiable to prevent it.”

Jaime McCauley, assistant professor of sociology at Coastal Carolina University, said, ” Proving a source is false need not violate any rights, necessarily. Two sources – one true, one false – competing in the marketplace of ideas is okay…. What we need is a civil society that values the truth and can think critically about their source of information.”

Giacomo Mazzone, head of institutional relations for the World Broadcasting Union, replied, “None. You need ONLY to change algorithms and the educational system.”

Ryan Sweeney, director of analytics, Ignite Social Media, wrote, “It will be a very grey area. Our country functions on the marketplace of ideas where, theoretically, the best ideas rise to the top and the worst disappear. Our marketplace of ideas is crashing into a recession. Free speech is certainly at risk. If you start to censor non-facts that will, again, further the divide and slingshot more conspiracy theories into the mainstream discourse. You can’t make people adhere to facts without stepping on the freedom of speech. If we can implement initiatives encouraging members of our society to treat each other with respect and act out of regard for our fellow humans our willingness to accept facts will improve. The best way to reduce fake and misleading information without stepping on civil liberties is a cultural ‘bailout’ of our marketplace of ideas.”

Jesse Drew, professor of cinema and digital media, University of California-Davis, commented, “Some of our privacy rights may be infringed.”

Isto Huvila, professor of information studies, Uppsala University, replied, “Yes, absolutely, but it requires high level of ethics and moral from trusted information providers. The society needs both neutral and objective (to the degree it is possible) information provision free from commercial and political agendas, and honesty from political and commercial actors to disclose their interests and agendas.”

Paul N. Edwards, Perry Fellow in International Security, Stanford University, commented, “The example of Wikipedia is useful here. Vandalism and disinformation have been dramatically reduced using bots, but at the cost of rejecting many initial posts by novice editors. Automatic systems for reducing fake/misleading information might have a similar chilling effect, rejecting well-intentioned reports that use language or concepts seen by others as off limits. Since only the government can ‘restrict civil liberties’ in a legal sense, I don’t see that happening, but I do see a climate of enforced civility leading to frustration and anger by those who want to express themselves more freely (e.g., using racist/homophobic/sexist language). If the government did become involved, I can imagine an expansion of laws restricting hate speech, a broadened legal definition of libel, and/or a broadened definition of threats to public safety (e.g., shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, now expanded to include things like advocating white supremacy).”

Julia Koller, a learning solutions lead developer, replied, “I don’t believe federal censorship is the right answer. I would support penalties for those who violate other’s rights using misinformation. For example, maybe it would be possible to ban offenders from internet access for a period time.”

danah boyd, principal researcher, Microsoft Research and founder, Data & Society, wrote, “It all depends on what changes. What would actually be effective is more systemic than is implied by this question.”

O’Brien Uzoechi, a business development professional based in Africa, replied, “The first thing is for all of us to sincerely check our motives before giving out information. The good of what we want to disseminate should be paramont in our mind. But then, can what is good be good for everyone? And that is there has to be a global benchmark enacted into on what is tot adjudged safe for dissemination otherwise be made liable for spreading injurious information. Individual civil liberties can be preserved so far as people develop themselves to exercise their right knowledgeably within the precinct of acceptable societal norms, otherwise, anarchy will set in. And that is why the advocate for Net Neutrality is great, but it has yet to be monitored because human beings, it seems, are innately programmed to do evil especially when there is least control and accountability. For me, the right to assess certain information should be curtailed, in order to prevent evil minded individuals from using such information against the general good of our society.”

Philipp Müller, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Mainz, Germany, replied, “Curtailing the freedom of expression in any way could have devastating consequences. No mechanisms to automatically delete presumably ‘false’ information should be implement in social networking services’ platforms – at least not for information that does not obviously break existing laws such as insult or demagoguery. Instead, democracies need to invest more in information literacy education. This should not only include knowledge about information sources but also about information processing and effects mechanisms.”

Daniel Alpert, managing partner at Westwood Capital, a fellow in economics with The Century Foundation, observed, “We must maintain our basic First Amendment freedoms to speak and publish. Curtailing them is not an option.”

John King, professor, University of Michigan School of Information Science, noted, “The only way to do it without curbing civil liberties is to educate people to be their own judges. This will take time, if it happens at all.”

Darel Preble, president and executive director, Space Solar Power Institute, commented, “Only if the ‘police’ are smart and trustworthy. Since this is not consistently true, free and open speech, as the Constitution guarantees, is still by far, the BEST course. It is an important battle worth fighting.”

John Laprise, consultant with the Association of Internet Users, wrote, “Crowdsourced reputational systems won’t impact civil liberties so much as give particular actors status.”

Ray Schoeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning, University of Illinois-Springfield, replied, “We must retain and vigorously support the right to free speech. But, that free speech must be tempered by aggressive vetting and fact-checking.”

Davide Beraldo, postdoctoral researcher, University of Amsterdam, noted, “Civil liberties could be generally preserved, although the right of people to express their opinions should be countered by a sort of duty to question these same opinions. The right that should be curtailed is the ‘right’ to make profit out of human’s cognitive biases.”

David C. Lawrence, a software architect for a major content delivery and cloud services provider whose work is focused on standards development, wrote, “An obviously vexing part of this whole discussion is that reducing fake or misleading information will by necessity mean a curtailment of the extensive freedom of speech rights that many modern societies enjoy. A significant problem is that there is no objective standard to evaluate fake or misleading information; there are many areas where people can legitimately disagree on not only the interpretation of something but even the basic facts supporting their point of view.”

Richard D. Titus, CEO for Andronik and advisor to many technology projects, wrote, “Only time builds trust. We trust media and personality brands because we have known them a long time and thus each truth makes us more confident of the next. But actually, technologically, authority and provenance (leveraging blockchain) can help preserve trust. If you hear something or read it and know where it came from, who paid for it, who distributed it. That helps understand its inherent biases. Facts can be flagged. Et cetera.”

Mohamed Elbashir, senior manager for internet regulatory policy, Packet Clearing House, noted, “Free to expression should be preserved, the ability to spread false and fake information should be addressed.”

Isabel Walcott Draves, president of Crowdfest Inc., said, “Yes, you can preserve civil liberties. Stronger math, statistics and science education; stronger literacy and writing education; introduction to political studies and cognitive bias in elementary education; exchange programs where children meet and get to know those who are different from themselves; less emphasis on acquisitive and consumerist life goals; more focus on quality of life and relationships. Rights that may have to be curtailed: perhaps an involuntary draft for the highly educated to become teachers or volunteers in other regions for a given time period; religious fundamentalists may have to give up the right to get federal funding, accreditation or tax breaks for religious schools that teach non-facts; completely unfettered trading, corporate mergers, and earning at the .001% level may have to be curtailed so deep pockets find it harder to manipulate information.”

Denise N. Rall, adjunct research fellow, Southern Cross University, Australia, said, “Government websites should be locked, and Wikipedia should be monitored by a governing body such as the National Science Foundation, or a global organisation from Brussels similar to the World Court. Pornography should be removed to a sub-section of the WWW. I have no argument with curtailing rights to access sensitive information, banking, insurance records, the IRS, Medicaid and Social Security records in the US with a rollout to interested governments worldwide.”

Robert W. Glover, assistant professor of political science, University of Maine, wrote, “Perhaps? It would likely involve more rigorous enforcement of libel laws as well as the creation of penalties for knowingly publishing false information. Proving such a thing in a legal setting would be incredibly challenging, and this would obvious create risks of a ‘chilling effect’ on free speech.”

Tony Smith, boundary crosser for Meme Media, commented, “The best way forward is likely to be expanding civil liberties, most likely radically. I’d long anticipated a world with no secrets and no need for secrets, but the latter has retreated because of increasing institutionalised censoriousness, aka Law and Order, built on fear campaigns of old media and old politics desperate to retain relevance and privileged income streams. If we wind back the programs to attack those who want to make personal choices which are not directly harmful and encourage historical reassessments of popular judgments we could both break down barriers to many damaged people’s ability to participate in society and oppressive fears of the other. Current methods of curtailing liberties serve primarily to attract those with thuggish inclinations to the side of indecent wealth with implicit licence to do their worst. More enforcement is almost never a better answer than public education, at least with respect to human behaviour, if not to those same humans hiding behind corporate entities.”

Steven Polunsky, writer with the Social Strategy Network, replied, “Artificial intelligence is progressing quickly enough that we will soon be able to flag or label misleading information without having to curtail any liberties.”

Mark Bench, former executive director of World Press Freedom Committee, wrote, “I don’t believe in censorship.”

Eileen Rudden, co-founder of LearnLaunch, wrote, “It is more important than ever to educate people to evaluate information. I don’t see a way to reduce the people who create misleading information other than by regulating.”

Jack Park, CEO, TopicQuests Foundation, noted, “Let’s play strict constitutionalist for a moment: why do we start talking about curtailing civil liberties? We only recently took away the ‘civil liberty’ to smoke inside public buildings, yet people still smoke; obese people still drink Pepsi, et cetera. Those things are as dangerous as fake news, speaking of which, advertisements that rail against soda taxes when there is massive public benefit in curtailing sugar water consumption: you planning to take those on as well? This is truly a ‘wicked’ space, when, overall, the issue is not reducable to but reasonably considered as a ‘public ignorance’ problem.”

Steve Newcomb of Coolheads Consulting replied, “The implicit right to eyeball-and-eardrum time will be withdrawn from anonymous sources. Somehow, the credible sources – let’s call them ‘journalists’ – will have to filter incoming information from anonymous sources. No individual rights need be curtailed, but increasing verification costs must be borne somehow, and borne privately.”

Peng Hwa Ang, a global internet policy expert researching this topic at Nanyang Technological University, observed, “I think it is possible to reduce fake and misleading information without curtailing civil liberties; in fact such curtailment may incentivise the creation and dissemination of such information on the grounds of serving a higher order good.”

Kelly Garrett, associate professor in the School of Communication at Ohio State University, said, “Efforts to curtail some types of communication beg the question: How do we distinguish harmful from productive messages? In answering, we must grapple with the fact that there is no simple formula. Deceptive messages can be productive, and truths harmful. And reasonable people can hold differing beliefs about the world. Humans have spent millennia grappling with such questions. The first step to guarding civil liberties is to recognize that efforts to shape the flow of communication is complex and that it entails risk. We should be very skeptical of solutions that appear simple, easy, or obvious.”

Kim Burdick, an historian and former legislative staff person based in North America observed, “Government transparency and citizen participation in open forums; taking advantage of opportunities to sit in on government hearings on issues related to bills on the US House and Senate floor, et cetera, are important. Somehow we need to get the word out and made more real that government officials work for the electorate NOT the other way around. Personal responsibility is paramount. We have reached a point where the headlines on Facebook posted by CNN, Foxx, New York Times and BBC cannot easily be differentiated from those of the Onion and/or True Confessions Magazine that used to be in the grocery store checkout line when I was a kid.”

Tom Wolzien, chairman of The Video Center and Wolzien LLC, said, “Requiring sourcing or responsible parties to be attached to information supposedly factual would provide a first step in verification. I wonder if a requirement to document the source of something claimed to be a ‘fact’ impinges on free speech, or, like libel and slander laws, merely separates the factual from the false.”

Thomas Frey, executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute, replied, “Much of this question is based on our notion of personal identity and our ability to quickly validate the identity of reporters, story participants and those interviewed in the process. We will lose our ability to remain anonymous and our ability to quote vague sources.”

Stephan Adelson, an entrepreneur and business leader, said, “Freedom of speech dictates that all speech be protected including lies. In my opinion it would be difficult to determine and to trust those who would determine exactly what truth is.”

Mike O’Connor, a self-employed entrepreneur, wrote, “Look in other places/times/scales for ideas and cautions. Effective cures for disease, ways to deal with liars, pornographers, hate crimes, ‘freaks,’ poverty, et cetera. Avoid miracle cures and poisons (like curtailing civil liberties).”

Willie Currie, a longtime expert in global communications diffusion, wrote, “It depends what civil liberties you are talking about – how do you balance freedom of (anonymous) expression against the right of the citizen to have their vote in an election to be made freely.”

Katim S. Toray, an international development consultant currently writing a book on fake news, noted, “Fake news is started by individuals who have civil rights. However, the fake news they spread has an adverse effect on the civil rights of millions of people, and as such, efforts to curb fake news should be based on the protection of the rights of the multitude of people affected by it, and less on those who perpetrate and spread it.”

Michael Wollowski, associate professor at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, commented, “Yes, I think it can be done in a way to preserve civil liberties. Let’s start by imploring Google and other news aggregators to change their algorithms that select which news stories to present to their readers. Change them so that readers get a broad sense of what is going on in the world and to give them, similar to how Amazon.com gives people the most helpful and the most critical review, news from different perspectives/voices.”

Axel Bender, a group leader for Defence Science and Technology (DST) Australia, said, “I don’t believe that fake and misleading information can be reduced. However, efforts can be made to provide information recipients (i.e., everybody) with meta skills that help to make confidence/trustworthiness assessments. If information recipients were more critical, asked for evidence, knew about ways of data manipulation, document falsification, et cetera, then they would have better ability to deal with the proliferation of false/fake information.”

Monica Murero, a professor and researcher based in Europe, wrote, “No right should be compromised or curtailed. To preserve civil liberties and reduce fake or misleading information, solutions might be: 1) A technical ‘detector’ of fake news providing alerts to the reader during online experience, receiving information via Whatsapp, via Facebook, on a website. 2) Modify the technical nature of digital information (create new digital formats that make hardly modifiable digital contents).”

Ned Rossiter, professor of communication, Western Sydney University, replied, “It’s certainly the case that civil liberties are corroded by penetration of agencies such as the US National Security Agency into private discourse. The multiplication of such invasion now prevails across a diverse institutional environment. Universities, for example, are not a whole lot different from tech-companies in the pursuit of data analytics that supposedly reveal the ontology of users, clients, subjects. We need to also keep in mind that such analytics are predicated on neo-positivism, so they are highly flawed in terms of what they claim to reveal. Nonetheless, they hold a force that acts upon the world. Regulating the diversity of actors engaged in the promulgation of informational worlds is, I suspect, largely impossible.”

Andrew Feldstein, an assistant provost, noted, “We might have to curtail the right to anonymity. People might need to stand behind their words, views and opinions. This would only be really bad in the face of a totalitarian regime.”
Martin Shelton, a security researcher with a major technology company, said, “We don’t need to curtail anyone’s rights to speech in order to help others understand the veracity of the messages they hear. Giving people trustworthy context about the information sources they listen to each day is therefore more important than ever. The more fundamental problem at work: Who decides how to provide context around the information we consume, and why should we trust them?”

Sandra Garcia-Rivadulla, a librarian based in Latin America, replied, “Reducing fake and misleading information may mean that a certain amount of privacy and anonymity could be lost. But this kind of decision and control, must be in the hands of people and governments and not only of big corporations now in charge of the biggest sharing platforms online. Again, the best solution is on the ‘people’ side, educating and preparing this society, and not just putting in place mechanisms to punish them when they do not behave.”

Randall Mayes, a fellow with AAI Foresight, observed, “Civil liberties should not extend to harming others.”

Agien Nyangkwe, a journalist based in Cameroon, said, “The right to err might be lost, however if the error is repeated several times like we find of late, it a crime that must be sanctioned in a court of law.”

C.W. Anderson, professor at the University of Leeds, wrote, “I am not sure of the history of courts and legislators attempting to strike a balance between cracking down on genuine nation-state propaganda and infringements on civil liberties. I do think this will be a hard balance to strike and we should err on the side of preserving civil liberties. Privacy is already being impinged. This will continue until a major crisis occurs.”

Emmanuel Edet, head of legal services, National Information Technology Development Agency of Nigeria, observed, “No. The right of privacy is curtailed.”

Alan Inouye, director of public policy for the American Library Association, commented, “Sure. One way I suggest is increasing digital literacy in the population. Another possibility is to create or bolster societal institutions associated with reliable, quality information. Perhaps libraries could become involved in some kind of systems or branding for trustworthiness.”

Allan Shearer, associate professor at the University of Texas-Austin, observed, “If civil liberties are viewed as rights, then perhaps finding ways to enforce correlative responsibilities – such as no anonymous posting – might provide an acceptable balance.”

Stuart A. Umpleby, professor emeritus, George Washington University, wrote, “I do not see why civil liberties would be infringed. The academic community and professionally edited publications do not infringe civil liberties. People can express themselves anonymously or use a pseudonym if they want. ‘False flag’ reporting would need to be exposed. More resources for uncovering such works may be needed.”

William L. Schrader, a former CEO with PSINet Inc., observed, “I am opposed to curtaining any rights and liberties we have in the United States. At great risk, we must maintain freedom of speech, assembly, right to bear arms, and the entire constitution. We must not be selective, as some in the news today propose that we be. Fake and misleading information has always been out there, and each reader is unconditionally responsible for determining to whom and what they listen.”

Don Kettl, professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, said, “The answer lies in more transparency. That should not damage civil liberties.”

James Schlaffer, an assistant professor of economics, commented, “No. It cannot.“

Kenneth Sherrill, professor emeritus of political science, Hunter College, City University of New York, said, “This question assumes that rights will have to be curtailed. Freedom of speech, freedom of press, et cetera, must not be curtailed. It’s a Hobson’s choice. Either way, the quality of democracy is diminished.”

Scott Fahlman, professor emeritus of AI and language technologies, Carnegie Mellon University, noted, “Neither government nor anyone else should be able to decide what is true and to censor what they believe or claim is false. But we can have organizations that build up trust and reputation and these can annotate online stores with supportive or dissenting views, much as snopes.com does now for ‘urban legends.’ We will need a whole ecosystem of these.”

Daniel P. Franklin, associate professor of political science, Georgia State University-Atlanta, commented, “Yes, civil liberties can be preserved. Just put an indelible question mark on stories that receive a significant number of complaints.”

Kevin Werbach, professor of legal studies and business ethics, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, said, “There’s no reason we need to curtail civil liberties in order to reduce fake and misleading information.”

Garland McCoy, president, Technology Education Institute, commented, “Public discourse is public discourse. Swift wrote that British Aristocrats eat Irish babies! Fact or creative license?”

Meamya Christie, user-experience designer with Style Maven Linx, replied, “I do not feel it can not be done in a way that preserves civil liberties.”

Luis Martínez, president of the Internet Society’s Mexico chapter, observed, “We should preserve always right to know, right to express, right to participate.”

John Sniadowski, a director for a technology company, said, “Put the onus on web search engines to de-duplicate data and trace information back to the source for full attribution. Society has to learn to operate on the minimum number of rules possible, being able to attribute fake news back to a single source will act as a deterrent to those who continue to inject fake information and make it possible to discover its source if not whom and therefor make it as unattributed and potentially worthless.”

Adam Holland, a lawyer and project manager at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, wrote, “I don’t think that an actual *reduction* is possible without sever curtailing of freedom of expression. However, I do think that better labeling is possible, which could empower motivated consumers and other stakeholders to create healthier information ecosystems.”

Shawn Otto, author of “The War on Science,” said, “Partly this is a matter of resetting public expectations and professional standards in journalism, which will naturally separate the wheat from the chaff. But another aspect is the privatization of the public square into social media platforms whose algorithms are not transparent and not even-handed. Equality is massaged and reduced in this process and public fora are twisted into moneymaking vehicles where certain people are given louder voices by investing to boost posts, amplifying their volume, or use bots and fake identities to spread posts more widely, amplifying their frequency. In both ways, the public’s equality in the conversation is further reduced. This is different than a newspaper accepting advertisements in two ways, first because the amplification is of content rather than or in addition to ads, and second because the forum is two-way. This is not just journalists and advertisers posting, it’s everybody, including everybody with an agenda, and it truly has taken over the majority of the public square. So regulating these fora, since they have taken over the public square, or providing an alternative online public forum that does not engage in these practices, is probably needed.”

Jillana Enteen, a respondent who shared no additional identifying details, replied, “The curtailing of civil liberties is a primary concern. I think technologies like LiFi may help by creating safer systems for information sharing, but I see artificial intelligence and internet data collection as already violating civil liberties.”

Danny Rogers, founder and CEO of Terbium Labs, replied, “Absolutely. Most of the fake and misleading information put out online is financially, not politically, motivated. By focusing on the financial roots, and by focusing on decreasing digital divides, we can conquer this problem while improving, not infringing upon, civil liberties.”

Mike Gaudreau, a retired IT and telecommunications executive, commented, “No.”

Louisa Heinrich, founder of Superhuman Ltd, commented, “Improving information at the expense of civil liberties is a hollow victory at best.”

Ken O’Grady, a futurist/consultant, said, “Ensuring accurate and truthful information can and must be done without curtailing any civil liberties… otherwise we are only replacing one form of control with another. Our civil liberties must stay intact, and fake news addressed in some of their manner.”

David Goldstein, researcher and author of the Goldstein Report, wrote, “Yes, fake and misleading information can be reduced. Maybe some rights will have to be curtailed.”

Iain MacLaren, director of the Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching, National University of Ireland-Galway, commented, “No rights need be curtailed. Many systems already provide for sanctions and charges against incitement to violence, racism and discrimination. The challenge is holding people to account, but there is no need to undermine the rights and liberties of the majority because of a need for systems and policies to adapt to an online era.”

Romella Janene El Kharzazi, a content producer, entrepreneur and user activist, said, “First, privacy has to be preserved in terms of collecting data, but when someone chooses to publish on a public forum, then they must be authenticated beforehand, and their identity made available to readers of that content. However, anonymity for those who disclose crimes and other wrongdoing must be protected. Second, free speech needs to be clarified. What I mean by that is an opinion needs to be identified as such and not passed off as a fact. This is part of the problem now. Feelings and beliefs are sometimes being passed off as facts, even by very influential people. Also, with respect to free speech, it must be clarified that one person does not have the right to create content that is devoted to disenfranchising other humans (or worse), based upon immutable characteristics or protected class status, and to prevent them from enjoying the rights guaranteed to the majority. Simply put, free speech does not include hate-speech or lies.”

R. Lee Mulberry, managing partner, Northern Star Consulting, said, “We can absolutely preserve civil liberties! The process of self-policing and others doing fact-checking does not have to infringe on civil liberties.”

Ed Terpening, an industry analyst with the Altimeter Group, replied, “One source of truth shouldn’t represent a conflict with civil liberties, especially if we clearly differentiate opinion from fact.”

Frank Kaufmann, founder and director of several international projects for peace activism and media and information, commented, “The problem of protecting civil liberties is already a hideous and grotesque beast now, utterly unrelated to ‘news.’ If people are concerned about society, they should concentrate on this problem of civil liberties, and forego the silly effort to ‘control’ ‘news.’”

Sam Lehman-Wilzig, associate professor and former chair of the School of Communication, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, wrote, “No rights at all need to be curtailed, if the verification systems merely ‘rank’ and/or signal unverifiable (or patently false) information, enabling society to choose whether to ignore or consume such ‘non-news.’”

Mark Johnson, chief technology strategist for MCNC, the technology non-profit that builds, owns and operates the infrastructure for North Carolina’s community institutions, commented, “Civil liberties need not be curtailed to reduce fake information. We need to develop mechanisms for establishing the provenance and trust in sources. We used to depend on professional journalists and their organizations for this. The internet lets anyone ‘publish’ and we need to create mechanisms that demonstrate the accuracy and provenance of information to establish that trust.”

Bradford W. Hesse, chief of the health communication and informatics research branch of the US National Cancer Institute, said, “Case law should be similar to that of First Amendment speech rulings. That is, people have a right to be protected from speech that can create malicious harm (libel, fraud, yelling ‘fire’ in a theater). When in doubt, though, the courts and societal conscience should err on the side of preserving free speech.”

Clifford Lynch, director of the Coalition for Networked Information, noted, “This is largely possible. Keep in mind that you might have a right of free speech, but this is not a right to be believed.”

Peter Dambier, DNS guru for Cesidian Root, commented, “No.”

Megan Knight, associate dean, University of Hertfordshire, said, “No, changes can’t really be made regardless of their impact on civil liberties. People will use the excuse of reducing misinformation in order to curtail civil liberties, just as terrorism and communism and other things were used.”

Dave Kissoondoyal, CEO, KMP Global, replied, “Yes, changes can be made to reduce fake and misleading information. One has the right to the freedom of expression. But this freedom does not give him/her the right to spread fake and misleading information. All rights can still be preserved and mechanisms setup to reduce the propagation of fake and misleading information.”

Matt Moore, a business leader, observed, “I don’t think these changes can be made full-stop. The genie is already out of the bottle. We might reduce civil liberties for other reasons (e.g., terrorism).”

Carl Ellison, an early internet developer and security consultant for Microsoft, now retired, commented, “Yes. You keep free speech, even when it is fake news, and you counter it with more speech. We need to educate the consumers in school, but we also have ‘The Daily Show’ and similar broadcasts worldwide doing that education.”

Adam Powell, project manager, Internet of Things Emergency Response Initiative, University of Southern California Annenberg Center, said, “No, therefore none.”

Jeff Stonecash, distinguished professor emeritus of political science at Syracuse University, wrote, “I am skeptical. Our fundamental premise is that the free flow of ideas is more beneficial than dangerous. I think efforts to filter information will not be accepted.”

David Harries, associate executive director for Foresight Canada, replied, “The need and demand to ‘reduce fake and misleading’ information does and will vary by subject, sector and costs. The real question is which needs and demands are most urgent while having the lowest ‘costs.’”

Michael Marien, senior principal, The Security & Sustainability Guide and former editor of The Future Survey, wrote, “I would certainly try by starting with public shaming of liars and deniers, and more-extensive debates. We have a serious structural problem that does not encourage such debates or constructive dialogue, as noted extensively in ‘Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis – far better than any scholar that I know of.”

Deborah Stewart, an internet activist/user, wrote, “I don’t rhino rights have to be interfered with in order to weed out fake reporting.”

Sasa M. Milasinovic, information and communication technology consultant with Yutro.com, replied, “Privacy is going to be reduced.”

Shirley Willett, CEO, Shirley Willett Inc., said, “No. Freedom of speech needs some kind of curtailing to learn respect.”

Joanna Bryson, associate professor and reader at University of Bath and affiliate with the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, said, “I’m not certain whether it can be done in a way that preserves true privacy (perhaps, I don’t do crypto). But even if we can’t get to that technologically, we could get politically into the position we are with property security. Even though the police and even neighbours could surveil our houses, they don’t, and if they did I’d have a decent chance of getting them in trouble.”

Michael Pilos, chief marketing officer, FirePro, replied, “No. This is a reactive approach to a much more complicated issue. People react emotionally upon their own selective perception. We can’t avoid that. People need to have access to information so they are able to criticize and form opinions.”

Marcel Bullinga, futurist with Futurecheck, based in the Netherlands, said, “Reducing fake news has nothing to do with civil liberties as such. Reducing fake news is a matter of using the right AI, not abandoning privacy laws or other civil liberties.”

Vian Bakir, Professor in political communication and journalism, Bangor University, Wales, commented, “Yes. Make leading technology corporations (e.g., Google and Facebook) assume the rights of media companies so they are responsible for what they publish.”

Jens Ambsdorf, CEO at The Lighthouse Foundation, based in Germany, replied, “I believe strengthening civil society and fostering civil liberties is a way to reduce the impact of fake and misleading information.”

Dan Ryan, professor of arts, technology, and the business of design at the University of Southern California, said, “There are lots of ‘free speech’ red herrings in this conversation.”

Ella Taylor-Smith, senior research fellow, School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University, said, “We could usefully think in terms of the information ecosystem – we want to find ways to discourage harmful content and encourage positive/useful/ accurate content. In many cases, we need to apply existing offline laws to online and promote the idea that this is one space, not two disconnected worlds.”

Vivienne Waller, senior lecturer, Swinburne University of Technology, replied, “Fake information and misleading information are not the same thing. Fake information is where there is no relationship between the information and material reality. Much of the information that comes out of marketing departments for organisations (be they companies, political parties or universities) could be characterised as misleading as it is designed to lead the consumer in a particular way, a way that does not always correspond with other presentations of that information. To summarise, civil liberties could be preserved with the outlawing of fake information, but not with the outlawing of misleading information.”

Tom Worthington, honorary lecturer in the Research School of Computer Science at Australian National University, commented, “Tom Worthington: One person’s facts are another’s misleading information. So about the only way to curb this is to educate citizens to read critically.”

John McNutt, professor, School of Public Policy and Administration, University of Delaware, wrote, “John McNutt Misleading information will always be with us. Our task is to make it possible for people to tell the difference. People don’t have to give up any of their rights to challenge information.”

Greg Shatan, partner, Bortstein Legal Group, based in New York, replied, “I do believe it might be achievable in a way that preserves civil liberties, but only if the idea that privacy and anonymity are the pinnacle of civil liberties can be discredited. While these are worthwhile goals, they need to be balanced against the importance of credibility and trust. So, it is not the case that rights will have to be curtailed; rather, competing rights need to be reprioritized.”

Wiliam Scarborough, Ph.D. candidate, University of Illinois-Chicago, wrote, “I do not know – this depends on the ability of software and code to differentiate between bots and actual humans.”

Alexander Furnas, Ph.D. candidate, University of Michigan, replied, “I don’t think you can do it whether you curtail civil liberties or not. Censorship will prove an ineffective tool, and will only stoke conspiracy theorists fire ‘what are they trying to hide?’”

Tomslin Samme-Nlar, technical lead, Dimension Data Australia, commented, “I think it is possible, if well thought and all stakeholders are involved.”

Andrea Matwyshyn, a professor of law at Northeastern University who researches innovation and law, particularly information security, observed, “Search engines and social media platforms can voluntarily develop and incorporate factual accuracy/confidence ratings that would appear automatically next to all shared ‘news’ articles.”

Amali De Silva-Mitchell, a futurist, replied, “Privacy is key. Authorized persons will have the legal right to review data and those impacted parties can consent to give up directed privacy rights .The opportunity for a person to respond with equal voice i.e. freedom of expression with equal exposure to the originating comments is critical and should be allowed to be applied in a timely manner with no prejudice. Court of the people. the public will be informed then for their decision making.”

Ayaovi Olevie Kouami, chief technology officer for the Free and Open Source Software Foundation for Africa, said, “It’s wishable to that the reduction of fake and misleading information be done in a way that preserve civil liberties. The rights on Freedom of expression on line and the rights of personal data protection.”

Ed Tomchin, a retired writer and researcher, said, “Probably not but I trust my government and don’t mind being surveilled.”

Rick Hasen, professor of law and political science, University of California-Irvine, said, “Most solutions will involve content providers and NGOs, not government regulation. So no rights would be curtailed. But it may not be successful.”

David Schultz, professor of political science, Hamline University, said, “Yes, it can be done, but it requires a re-regulation of the media.”

Nigel Cameron, technology and futures editor at UnHerd.com and president of the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies, said, “Bolder efforts by trusted/branded sources will be needed to distinguish general disagreement from fake lies.”

Greg Swanson, media consultant with Itzontarget, said, “All authoritarian regimes assert that their propaganda is the truth and that civil liberties must be surrendered to protect their truth. No rights should need to be curtailed. We need to understand where a speaker is coming from, and perhaps who or what they represent, but we cannot choose which voices are allowed to speak. Otherwise we could level the playing field so that the billionaire’s voice drowns out the dissident’s voice.”

Paul Kyzivat, retired software engineer and internet standards contributor, noted, “I don’t think rights need to be curtailed. People can say what they want, anonymously or not. It is then vetted. There can be multiple sources of vetting, and people can choose which of those they wish to trust.”

Flynn Ross, associate professor of teacher education, University of South Maine, said, “The information open access is needed.”

William Anderson, adjunct professor, School of Information, University of Texas-Austin, replied, “I have faith that some balance can be found or invented. One will not be able to remove unwanted material from the internet.”

K.G. Schneider, dean at a public university library, replied, “The right to absolute anonymity at all times must be questioned, whether it is Twitter users who hide behind their handles to harass and threaten people and foment discord, or the hooded ‘anarchists’ (if they are not indeed paid agents) introducing violence into peaceful protests.”

Eduardo Villanueva-Mansilla, associate professor, department of communications, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, said, “Is there a possible balance? I may lean towards ‘no.’ If we assume that the increase of unverifiable info is a political tactic, embraced by specific actors for specific purposes, the curtailing of civil liberties may serve as a justification for further disruption, with very little impact on the actual dissemination of ‘fake news,’ as the value of those is just too high not to risk using the tools at hand.”

Tiziano Bonini, lecturer in media studies at the department of social, political and cognitive sciences, University of Siena, noted, “We shouldn’t centralize the verification of information and assign it to a single institution.”

Andee Baker, a retired professor, said, “The right to say whatever you please to whomever, wherever may have to be curtailed. This would be akin to the rule of not shouting ‘fire’ when no fire is burning.”

Jeff Johnson, professor of computer science, University of San Francisco, replied, “Yes, it can be done without curtailing civil liberties. It only requires a return to old-fashioned methods of curated publication, rather than anyone can post whatever they want and the social-net will sort it out.”

Federico Pistono, entrepreneur, angel Investor and researcher with Hyperlook TT, commented, “One can and must exist without jeopardizing the other.”

Robert Watts, director of new media, Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, said, “Perhaps by clearly labeling information as fact or opinion. If information is meant to appear as fact but has verifiable falsehoods, then it should be either filtered or labeled as opinion. It still comes back to the Daniel Patrick Moynihan quote: ‘Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.’”

Virginia Paque, lecturer and researcher of internet governance, DiploFoundation, wrote, “It depends upon how this is done. How can we place limits on what we call ‘truth’ and still have freedom of expression? How can we do the necessary searches to verify information without having ubiquitous access (privacy?). Tighter restrictions and less permeable borders might be necessary.”

Tatiana Tosi, netnographer at Plugged Research, commented, “Sure, all human and privacy rights should be preserved. Sensitive information should be given only upon requested by the organization or government with a justification.”

Barry Parr, owner of Media Savvy, replied, “This will be done primarily via private parties, and will tend to favor mainstream sources. So, it wouldn’t threaten civil liberties, but will limit access to non-mainstream views.”

Richard Lachmann, professor of sociology, State University of New York-Albany, replied, “No rights need to be curtailed if such systems merely flag rather than remove false information. In any case, this can be done by private companies, removing the role of government.”

Meg Mott, professor of politics at Marlboro College, commented, “Rather than focus on rights, I would focus on argument. What if social media platforms required reasons for statements? Instead of regulating speech in terms of the number of characters (as in Twitter) what if the message required reasons behind each assertion? Perhaps society will become as concerned about the details of argument as it is about the details of nutrition.”

Dariusz Jemielniak, professor of organization studies in the department of Management In Networked and Digital Societies (MiNDS), Kozminski University, observed, “Absolutely, citizen control and communal oversight over fake news is crucial. In fact, we also need citizen controls over social network mechanisms to get our civil liberties back.”

Siva Vaidhyanathan, professor of media studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship, University of Virginia, wrote, “If there were such a way, and I don’t see one, it would have no effect on civil liberties. That’s a false choice.”

Alexis Rachel, user researcher and consultant, said, “It concerns me that there would be means to thwart the spread of fake information that threatens civil liberties considered. This is more of a social problem than a legal one.”

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