In the era of fake news and disinformation, Chloe Colliver offers hope for honest and authentic knowledge sharing. The Head of Digital Research and Policy works with global businesses to tackle false information online, particularly during periods of crisis, like the Covid-19 pandemic or polarising US 2020 elections.
Chloe is an insightful regulation and digital disruption speaker regularly booked as a representative of the technological industry. She supplies communication techniques to avoid disinformation online.
We sat down with Chloe to learn about online disinformation, as well as her role at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and Global Internet Forum to Countering Terrorism.
You are the Head of Digital Policy and Strategy at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, what does this role entail?
“The [Institute for Strategic Dialogue] is a think tank that works across disinformation, hate and extremism all around the globe. My role as the Head of Digital Policy and Strategy is to lead a team of analysts to work globally on those kinds of threat areas, and to turn information into useful insights for people we advise.
“So, whether that be governments, technology companies or civil society partners, we try to formulate recommendations, ideas and concepts that can help us push forward, tackling, preventing and countering some of these threats online.
“I do a lot of work with governments to think about the design of digital regulation. So, in the UK, at the European Commission level, in the US and Canada. But I also work very closely with civil society networks more globally where that kind of regulation would be appropriate.
“We have to think about other kinds of policy response that might help push back against some of these threats. And so really, it’s about translating data research into something actionable and useful for those who can do something about the problem.”
Having developed the Global Internet Forum to Countering Terrorism, what is the global impact of online terrorist content?
“The Internet has had a huge impact on terrorist organisation’s ability to spread propaganda, to recruit and promote their causes – and that’s the case both on the side of far right terrorism, racist terrorism, but also Islamist extremism and terrorism like ISIS and Al-Shabaab content.
“One of the key factors is that now these movements are very transnational. They connected the dots using online networks to make sure supporters in one country are connected to supporters in another, which builds a sense of belonging that was much more difficult previously.
“So, we’ve seen a kind of network effect, with social media platforms enabling terrorists to use their services. What we’ve also seen is a much more professional communications effort from these organisations, who saw very early on the benefits these kinds of services can provide.
“Everyone will remember the very slick propaganda videos of groups like ISIS in their early days that were used to recruit and radicalise mostly young people, often women, to their causes and encourage them either to travel to join ISIS or become part of their home-grown networks that promote terrorist ideology.”
How do you predict fake news and disinformation will evolve in the future?
“Lots of people have tried to predict the next big thing in disinformation and often the answers you’ll hear will be deepfakes or people’s audio being placed on different bodies and all sorts of quite snazzy technological developments and advances.
“However, from what we’ve seen over the last few years, I would say that the biggest development is going to be the accessibility for people who are using disinformation tactics to try and affect different kinds of change.
“So, it will actually be not necessarily high quality or professional content, but using disinformation to target issues like climate change, to target issues like migrant rights, all sorts of areas of policy and discussion that can become targets of this kind of tactic online.
“I worry that actually we’ll see a broadening and a flourishing of disinformation, toolkits and tactics across a much broader area of issues rather than necessarily a new tool or kind of technique that is used to promote false information.
“I do think we need to look out for a particularly effective image and video editing on women, which is something that we’re keeping an eye on in terms of how those sorts of tools are used to harass, attack and defame female public figures across the world.”
Why is it important to regulate the technology industry, and how must governing bodies do so?
“The technology industry has given us enormous benefits and wonderful gifts in terms of our ability to communicate around the globe. But like any other corporate industry, there has to be some kind of oversight of the effects that these kinds of products could or might be having.
“At the moment, the tech industry is pretty much a Wild West in terms of the effects it might be having on children and adults, on our democracies. So really, it’s up to democratic governments to retake the baton and to formulate and design responsible and proportional regulation that can ensure that those systems, those products, those companies are doing the jobs they set out to do and not doing things that are counterproductive to human rights or fundamental rights.
“It seems like a controversial idea, but actually, regulation of corporations is a very, very accepted status quo. This kind of regulation should really look to curb any excesses and negative effects of these products, rather than to curtail their ability to grow or to provide really useful and interesting services for their customers.”
What is your proudest professional achievement?
“It’s hard to pick one moment in the last five years, but throughout 2020, the number of huge challenges we faced in the world really struck me as a specific moment of clarity in my role.
“The thing I’m proudest of is taking part in a really large coalition effort during the US 2020 presidential elections, to try to detect and respond to massive disinformation campaigns that were targeting the election itself. As most people would have seen from the news, there was an enormous amount of disinformation targeting the result of the election and the democratic process that occurred during November 2020.
“My ability to be part of a group that was trying to understand where that was coming from, what it did to people and where it was going, and then to try and respond to that effectively – to make sure that the election was safe and secure – was a really special moment for me.
“I’m glad to have seen that the result was upheld and that we can now move into the next year of more excitement to come, I’m sure.”