Live List with Reset Australia
As a part of our Digital Democracy Lab, our team in Australia worked with Reset Australia to design, launch, and advocate for a policy solution to the minimise threat of COVID misinformation circulating on social media. The campaign ultimately built a coalition for policy interventions for COVID misinformation, led to policy discussions in the media and in parliament, engaged organizations and audiences that hadn’t previously been outspoken on the issue, and was covered by every major print publication in Australia.
Since the start of the pandemic, public health teams around the world have struggled to counter waves of misinformation spreading on social media. This problem was exacerbated by the engagement-driven algorithms of social media that often prioritise emotionally-charged, sensational and conspiratorial content over truthful content. This means that often by the time misinformation had reached mainstream awareness, it was too late to try and counter the narrative.
We knew that misinformation was going to be a significant challenge for Australia, but there was a lack of upstream solutions being discussed.
In Australia there was no live policy discussion about what policymakers and governments could do to support public health teams who were trying to combat misinformation.
We worked from square one to design, consult and develop a policy that would shine a light on content that was spreading on social media.
We interviewed experts and convened a roundtable of leading academics and civil society organisations with experience in misinformation.
We discovered a common narrative from these experts that taking down content will never be enough in the fight against misinformation. What researchers really wanted was a source of data that they could analyse and monitor.
And so we designed a policy solution that would do just that – which we called the live list.
A coalition of public health organisations
Once we had developed the policy we then needed to make sure that it was credible among the broader public health sector.
We convened and mobilised a coalition of leading public health organisations in Australia to support and launch our ‘Live List’ policy paper.
The combination of our technical expertise, with their real world public health experience, gave the policy the legitimacy it needed to be taken seriously by both media and policy makers.
The live list was designed to shine a light on the misinformation that spreads online. But it’s hard to conceptualise the size and scale of misinformation content that exists.
But we believed that if policy makers could see the kinds of content spreading on social media, they’d be more likely to do something about it.
In 2020 the internet overtook television as the primary source of news for Australians. So we put together The Conspiracy Chronicles – a physical newspaper containing some of the worst pieces of misinformation we could find online.
We delivered it to every Member of Parliament in Canberra with a note about our policy, and an invitation to hold a policy briefing for their teams.
Working with SumOfUs, we ran a social media campaign designed to get people to better understand how COVID misinformation spreads online.
Focusing on the public health impacts, we used common terminology – comparing its affects to that of air pollution – to get people to better understand the impact of misinformation, and push them to demand action.
Leveraging the media coverage from the launch of the policy and the newspaper stunt our teams headed to federal parliament in Canberra to make our case for the ‘live list’ directly to members of parliament.
We hosted an event for members of parliament and their staff, and organised one-on-one sessions with MPs who were particularly interested in the policy.
The Live List engaged organisations who had previously not been outspoken on the need for policy interventions for COVID misinformation. The campaign was covered by every major print publication in Australia including The Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Guardian.
Live List was able to engage people with campaign content online in direct support of our live list policy. The campaign also established policy discussion about the live list in the media and in parliament by MPs that we engaged with in more than 12 meetings.
for Equity & Evidence