Misinformation is one of the greatest threats to democracy and electoral integrity, according to Anthony Banbury, president of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), a United States-based organisation funded by the U.S. State Department and other international agencies. As a result, it is necessary to develop voluntary guidelines for social media companies.
Banbury was in Delhi on Monday and Tuesday to participate in the Election Commission of India’s (EC) international seminar on the use of technology for election integrity.
Banbury stated, in reference to his speech at the conference on Monday, that the information space is “the single gravest threat to democracy, electoral integrity, and social cohesion in many nations, and it’s only getting worse.”
He stated that technical tools are being created and made accessible to individuals, candidates, political parties, and “evil actors.”
This is being fueled by the low cost of application, high return, and minimal risk, he stated.
In December 2021, the meeting was held for the first time as part of the US-led Summit for Democracy. In March, the second virtual summit will take place. In advance of the second summit, the European Commission, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Mauritius, and Greece were picked to lead the election integrity group.
After the session, Banbury told The Indian Express that this was an opportunity for IFES and the EC to discuss misinformation concerns with election management bodies (EMBs) from other nations.
Banbury also expressed concern about the usage of artificial intelligence and deep fakes (a video or audio recording that replaces a person’s face or voice with another person’s).
“More and more corporations are eager to sell commercial services to candidates, parties, or malicious individuals who wish to influence election outcomes by disseminating misinformation campaigns and attacking political opponents,” he said. Those who consume information via social media are oblivious to the source of these attacks.
Social media corporations must be a part of the solution, according to Banbury, because their platforms are used to spread false information. “We embrace freedom of expression without question. In certain nations, there have been ostensible measures to counteract online misinformation, but this is actually an attack on free speech by autocrats,” he said. Clearly, we must oppose this position.