11 Apr 2024Webinar

Jiore Craig on disinformation & AI: Takeaways from Taiwan’s elections and moving forward in 2024

ISD’s Resident Senior Fellow of Digital Integrity, Jiore Craig, joined the Thomson Foundation for a timely discussion on the challenges and consequences of artificial intelligence (AI) in this historic election year worldwide, looking at the lessons learned from Taiwan’s own elections in January, and the unified public response in fighting disinformation.

In a recent report, commissioned by the Thomson Foundation, researchers noted coordinated digital attacks attempting to push narratives in Taiwan such as portraying an imminent Chinese military threat, and suggesting the US was manipulating the country into a military confrontation, as well as “malicious personal smears.” There was also a large push around the release of an ebook filled with false claims about the incumbent president and sexual misconduct, as noted by the Global Investigative Journalism Network‘s coverage on the webinar. The ebook became the ‘script’ for generative AI videos narrated by AI-generated newscasters and influencers, with videos largely being shared on social media.

In response to the influx of misinformation circulating about the election, major public news organisations teamed up with fact-check organisations to identify and debunk these claims. In the report, commercial media is noted to have struggled more doing so due to “political biases and profit motives” but that verification efforts were generally made.

“The example from Taiwan is a great demonstration of the power of trusted messengers in responding to AI-generated disinformation threats,” Jiore said during the webinar. “Media or any messenger that earns its audience’s trust has the opportunity to make impactful choices when a disinformation attack presents.”

“To me, earning trust means both disclosures and transparency, as well as prioritizing the voter audience — over only a peer audience, for example — to meet voters where they are receiving information in 2024. For example, shorter-form over only longer-form, and radio, podcasts, etc,” she added.

This cross-sector cooperation will be essential in combatting mis- and disinformation efforts as the year continues, with consistent accuracy being the key to earning public trust.

“As bad actors aim to break down our trust, that makes us insecure, and that makes us emotional — and then we’re tired,” Jiore explained “And when we’re tired, we’re easier to control. It’s pushing us into a disengaged place.”

Fellow panellists included:
  • Professor Chen-Ling Hung, Director of the Graduate Institute of Journalism, National Taiwan University – NTU;
  • Rasto Kuzel, Media and election expert at MEMO 98;
  • And Moderator, Caro Kriel, Chief Executive at Thomson Foundation

The full webinar is available on the Thomson Foundation’s YouTube page.

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