Launched action plan to support journalism and fight disinformation

Kjersti Fløgstad and Maria Ressa at the Nobel Peace Center's Freedom of Expression Conference
Photo: Johannes Granseth / Nobel Peace Center

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa launched an action plan to address the information crisis at The Nobel Peace Center’s Freedom of Expression Conference today. It is signed by her and Dmitry Muratov, together with nine other Nobel laureates.

The two Nobel Peace Prize laureates both talked at the Nobel Peace Center’s Freedom of Expression conference in Oslo Friday, marking almost a year since they were announced as laureates.

Maria Ressa presented the plan, with ten action points to support journalism and end disinformation, hate speech and abuse online.

She called for urgent action:

"The huge potential of technology to advance our societies has been hijacked by Big Tech and a model that deliberately promotes lies, anger and hate in the name of profit. Radical action is needed to detoxify these companies' business model to reclaim the internet for the public good. We need a democratic vision of the internet for the 21st century," Maria Ressa said.

The "10 point action plan to adress our information crisis" is signed by Maria Ressa and Dmitrij Muratov, and endorsed by 9 other Nobel Peace Prize laureates including President Juan Manuel Santos, Tawakkol Karman and Amnesty. 100 individuals and organisations have endorsed the plan so far. Dmitry Muratov, who was participating in the conference via video due to the funeral of late President Mikhail Gorbatchev, said:

“One antidote to the distortion of facts and the polarisation of debate in society is to support and invest in truly independent media”.

The action plan

The plan calls for "a world in which technology is built in service of humanity and where our global public square protects human rights above profits." It lists ten actions points directed at governments, the EU and the UN:

We call on all rights-respecting democratic governments to:
1. Require tech companies to carry out independent human rights impact assessments that must be made public as well as demand transparency on all aspects of their business – from content moderation to algorithm impacts to data processing to integrity policies.

2. Protect citizens’ right to privacy with robust data protection laws.

3. Publicly condemn abuses against the free press and journalists globally and commit funding and assistance to independent media and journalists under attack.

We call on the EU to:
4. Be ambitious in enforcing the Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts so these laws amount to more than just ‘new paperwork’ for the companies and instead force them to make changes to their business model, such as ending algorithmic amplification that threatens fundamental rights and spreads disinformation and hate, including in cases where the risks originate outside EU borders.

5. Urgently propose legislation to ban surveillance advertising, recognizing this practice is fundamentally incompatible with human rights.

6. Properly enforce the EU General Data Protection Regulation so that people’s data rights are finally made reality.

7. Include strong safeguards for journalists’ safety, media sustainability and democratic guarantees in the digital space in the forthcoming European Media Freedom Act.

8. Protect media freedom by cutting off disinformation upstream. This means there should be no special exemptions or carve-outs for any organisation or individual in any new technology or media legislation. With globalised information flows, this would give a blank check to those governments and non-state actors who produce industrial scale disinformation to harm democracies and polarise societies everywhere.

9. Challenge the extraordinary lobbying machinery, the astroturfing campaigns and recruitment revolving door between big tech companies and European government institutions.

We call on the UN to:
10. Create a special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General focused on the Safety of Journalists (SESJ) who would challenge the current status quo and finally raise the cost of crimes against journalists.