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SXSW Interactive in the Age of Disinformation: Recommended Panels


Always at the epicenter of culture, experience and technology, the annual SXSW Interactive festival is here in Austin, Texas once again. Thousands will flock to the city eager to get ahead of the latest trends and innovations.

Reflecting the tenor of current events in the last year, some of the world’s most accomplished and powerful women will deliver keynote speeches, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Katie Couric, and Academy Award Winner Jodie Foster. Established influencers and leaders Malcom Gladwell, former U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner, Senator Elizabeth Warren and musician David Byrne will also be speaking, along with many others.

Along with a lineup of amazing speakers, this year’s event has honed into topics surrounding fake news, disinformation, misinformation and the role that plays in our society. As an information integrity company, we are thrilled to be able to add to this conversation alongside other subject matter experts. Here are just a few of those sessions that we recommend attending:

Disinformation 2019: Brands in the Crosshairs Thursday, March 14 2pm

As we all know from Congressional reports and widespread media coverage, disinformation is now a global problem. While it once predominantly sought to pollute and corrupt elections, we now see its new target: high-visibility brands. In this panel New Knowledge CEO and Founder Jonathon Morgan as well as New Knowledge Director of Communications Robert Matney are joined by Data for Democracy Director of Ethics Mo Johnson, Universal McCann (UM) New York Chief Digital Officer Joshua Lowcock and Bayer’s Director of Online Engagement Janice Person to discuss how responsible, corporate leaders can best prepare to defend brand reputation and equity.

AI: The Silver Bullet Against Disinformation? Saturday, March 9 3:30pm

Every facet of a modern civilization political, cultural, commercial and legislative is calling upon technologists to detect, monitor and mitigate the presence and effects of disinformation. Featuring Facebook Public Policy Manager Shaarik Zafar and New Knowledge Vice President Annie Klomhaus, this discussion will consider what role artificial intelligence plays in the battle.

Fighting Misinformation and Defending the Open Web Friday, March 8 11:00am

The spread of misinformation is becoming an increasing problem in countries around the world. In particular during election times, social media platforms have been used to strategically to influence public opinion – from the Philippines, to Kenya, from Germany to the USA. Lack of net neutrality and the dominance of platforms like Facebook with its zero rating services are contributing to this becoming an increasing problem for democracy. Internet activists from Africa, Europe and the USA will give insights into different government attempts to introduce new legislation combating the spread of misinformation as well as civil society strategies to defend freedom of speech and promote access to pluralistic information sources.

Media Literacy: The Real Impact of Fake News Friday, March 8 3:30pm

In a world where the news cycle is 24/7, people may have difficulty discerning what information is real and what isn’t. Information overload can affect one’s ability to understand the impact “fake” news has on various populations. In this session, participants will be provided with an interactive, multi-sensory experience that focuses on media literacy, social justice and self-care. This session will benefit participants who are interested in learning how to process media and make effective change.

Brand: The New Political Reality Satuday, March 9 11:00am

Pepsi to Facebook, Starbucks to Gap, CEO to celebrity spokesperson, whether intentional or not, brands have become our reality TV. And with 57% of consumers admitting to buying or boycotting a brand because of the position it takes on an issue, it’s never been more important for brands to get it right. This panel will bring in leading experts to explore the new reality for brands marketing to a highly nationalized, politicized and polarized society. Audiences will learn how brand leaders are navigating this new territory, what lessons can be learned from those who’ve put a stake in the ground and the new rules for engaging consumers and employees on the issues that matter.

Can We Fight Fake News without Killing the Truth? Monday, March 11 11:00am

Now that the Internet and social media are used extensively to facilitate the flow of information, it has also enabled the amplification of fake news, post-truth and hate speech. This chaos has prompted some legislators and policymakers to attempt to regulate digital spaces, including news sites, social networks, and communications tools. But how can genuine concerns be addressed without increasing the risk of censorship of valid ideas and impeding fundamental rights of freedom of expression ? How can we work together to ensure that all stakeholders of online spaces – journalists, academics, businesses, governments, and ordinary users of social media – have both their rights of free expression and their right to not be manipulated protected?

Download the current SXSW app to get the latest information on the conference, and don’t forget to stay hydrated to have the best experience.

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