Media Party Argentina: Trying to Unravel the Impact of Fake News in the Post-Truth Era

The Mozilla Information Trust Initiative heads to Latin America this week.

Phillip Smith
Sep 13, 2017 · 4 min read

Now in it’s sixth year, the Media Party in Buenos Aires, Argentina kicked off today. I still have the email from Mariano Blejman, one of the individuals who started the Media Party, that described the inaugural event as “the most ambitious Hacks/Hackers meetup ever.” It is a testament to Mariano and his team of organizers that they have consistently drawn thousands makers, journalists, designers, developers, and academics to the Media Party every year since 2012.

I asked Mariano what he hoped for this year, and he shared that:

In these six years, the Media Party has become not only a global benchmark for media innovation, but also a kind of snapshot about where the media world is going. The big focus this year is on trying to unravel the impact of fake news, in the post truth era.

Latin America is no stranger to interference in its information systems and elections, but I’m confident that the guests and participants gathered for the next three days will uncover new opportunities to collaborate on solutions — and I’m glad that the Mozilla Information Trust Initiative is able to support and contribute to that work at the Media Party this year.

I reached out to three of the guests who will be grappling with these issues — Jonathan Albright, Ed Bice, and Andrew Losowsky — and asked what they were excited to bring to the Media Party, and this is what they had to say:

I’m interested in showing the complexity between the different components of modern misinformation, ‘fake news’, and propaganda. Through my talk and workshop, I hope to provide a visual network-based exploration of a complex ecosystem that’s difficult to translate through statistics, charts, and content analysis. Particularly, I seek to inspire projects for new and creative ways to look at misinformation in South America and other Latin American countries, especially regarding the use of data in politics. Jonathan Albright, Tow Centre, Culumbia University

Media Party is a terrific opportunity to engage with some of the smartest hackers and thinkers in the media space in Latin America. We’ve worked with a few engineers from Argentina on The Coral Project team, and they have always been dedicated, creative, and highly skilled. I’m excited to share the Mozilla approach to fixing some of the internet’s biggest problems with this community, and to find new potential collaborators in our mission.Andrew Losowsky, Coral Project

The only challenge is to fix the web. There are several areas of the web that are badly broken, beginning with control of personal data, control of our social graph, and control of feeds. Arguably the misinformation crisis springs from our fundamental lack of agency. I do think all of these issues are related. The place we are trying to insert a wedge at Meedan is in leading an effort to develop a framework for standardizing context/dispute/verification data. We are calling this effort the Credibility Indicators Working Group. Ed Bice, Meedan

Blejman, an experienced media innovator and a past ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow, is equally worried about the impact of high volumes of false news-like content and the impact it has on Internet users and their perception of truth. When I asked Blejman where he saw an opportunity, he proposed that “a global effort would be needed to effectively detect and stop the spread of misinformation.”

We couldn’t agree more, and we hope that you’ll take an opportunity to get involved.

A special thank you to Mozilla for their support of my fellowship work on media, misinformation & trust.

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