Centre for Communication Governance at NLU delhi

Tackling Misinformation in Emerging Economies and the Global South: Exploring Approaches for the Indian Context

While the challenge of misinformation is not new, certain factors in the digital age have heightened its negative impacts on society. In particular, the designs of internet platforms—their algorithms and business models—have enabled the rapid spread of misinformation. Various countries have adopted diverse approaches to tackle this challenge, ranging from speech regulation to self-regulation. However, these approaches have limitations in a Global South or Indian context. Additionally, these approaches do not address the underlying factors that enable the viral spread of misinformation.

As India rethinks its Information Technology Act, it must focus on building in regulatory mechanisms around platform transparency and accountability to enable regulators, researchers, and other key stakeholders to effectively understand internet platforms’ system of information flows, design elements that enable misinformation virality, and business models. Based on an understanding gained from platforms’ enhanced disclosures, greater public awareness can be built around these issues and regulatory frameworks can be designed to ensure greater platform transparency and incentivize a shift in business models away from overreliance on targeted behavioral advertising. 

In this paper, the author outlines regulatory approaches to tackling misinformation, ranging from speech regulation to self-regulation to intermediary liability, and briefly engages with their limitations. It concludes by exploring the approach of platform and algorithmic transparency and whether these could be foundational regulatory mechanisms to aid Global South countries build upon and develop effective approaches to tackle misinformation.

Author: Jhalak M Kakkar, Executive Director at CCG and Visiting Professor at National Law University Delhi

Full link of the article is available here.

Published by: Stanford | Cyber Policy Center, a joint initiative of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Stanford Law School in the book Digital Technologies in Emerging Countries, Edited by Francis Fukuyama and Marietje Schaak

Keywords: Misinformation, Global South, internet platforms, algorithms, transparency, accountability

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