New technologies are making it possible to generate potent and insidious forms of misinformation — and when coupled with changing consumption habits, they have fueled a rise in hate-based extremism. Public officials, NGOs, and the British public are confronted daily by a deluge of toxic information online that has dire consequences for the U.K.’s information ecosystem and poses an existential threat to democracy if left unaddressed. The solution to this growing crisis is to understand the roots of this online toxicity, recognize the ways in which the social platforms have been cheated by nefarious actors and have sometimes enabled this threat — and then develop robust cross-sector countermeasures to neutralize it and mitigate the harms.
The APPG Against Antisemitism, with support from the Trust, organised for a briefing with the President and other members of the U.S.-based NGO Media Matters to explore a new framework for understanding and combating online toxicity. The briefing offered insight into where disinformation and hate-based propaganda originate, how they spread through social media, and what they look like in British and global contexts — and, most importantly, a framework for mobilising policy solutions.
Those attending included APPG officers and members: Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, Dame Louise Ellman MP, Lord Haskel and Lord Shinkwin, the office of Gary Streeter MP and government officials including from the Home Office and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.