New Tool Tracks Disinformation Laws Globally

By: Inaara Gangji | 11/17/2023

Amid the rise in disinformation today, journalists should look into legal measures adopted by countries around the world to combat it.

Brazil’s Agência Lupa is helping reporters do just that, this month launching an interactive map showing national and supranational laws globally intended to legislate disinformation online. The tool, called LupaMundi, provides details about the legislation while helping users better understand the nature of the laws and how they could be used against journalists.

“We need to learn from the work people are doing across the world,” said Natália Leal, executive director of Agência Lupa, during a recent ICFJ Global Crisis Reporting Forum session on tracking disinformation laws globally. “Lupa is focused on Brazil, but if you don’t look to other experiences [around the globe], it is impossible to have new answers for the same questions.”

Joining Leal to discuss LupaMundi was her colleague, Agência Lupa product analyst Flávia Campuzano. Here's more from their discussion:
 


 

Using LupaMundi

LupaMundi houses data on disinformation laws from 118 of the 193 U.N. member states from which data was available, and another 14 countries that have draft laws on disinformation. It includes specific information on the laws and references on where the data was obtained so “users can do the fact-checking themselves,” said Campuzano.

Users can filter information on the map to see which countries have specific or non-specific laws around disinformation, and which don’t have any laws. Additional filters enable users to find legislation related to specific topics, such as content moderation, COVID-19, cybercrime, defamation, education, and internet regulation, among others. 

The information can be displayed as a list of countries instead of the map, and also downloaded as a spreadsheet. “This is great for researchers and journalists for deeper analysis, or to write an article,” added Campuzano.

LupaMundi is currently available in English and Portuguese, and the team eventually hopes to translate the map into French, Arabic and Spanish, among other languages in the future.

The map is dynamic and ever evolving, Campuzano noted: “The map is a work in progress. We expect corrections, this is part of the work. If you see something that we can update, you can email us, and we will do our best.”
 

Building LupaMundi 

Agência Lupa journalist Nathália Afonso conceived of the idea for LupaMundi during a training with ICFJ’s Disarming Disinformation program. She pitched the tool to her newsroom’s product team, headed by Marcela Duarte, which then took the project forward in partnership with LatamChequea and with the support of ICFJ, the Scripps Howard Fund and the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

The LupaMundi team collected data from countries' government records and the U.N., among other sources. They also partnered with fellow IFCN signatories, such as Chequeado, to gather information on local disinformation narratives.

They compiled the information they gathered into an intuitive, user-friendly site page with filters and categories for easy navigation, said Campuzano, adding that verifying the sources informing the map’s data and information was a top concern throughout the production process.
 

Future applications

The team behind LupaMundi hopes that by making the information widely accessible, the tool will enable users – journalists, researchers and others – to find patterns in the legislation, and connect them to other topics, such as governance and politics.

“We didn’t know how many countries were working on legislation until we launched this map. The difference we are aiming to make is giving more information to those who want to research this topic and compare what different countries are doing,” said Leal.

The map is also meant to spur discussion on disinformation laws with experts and encourage critical thinking around the legislation, instead of reducing analysis around it to merely “good” or “bad,” she added. 

Overall assessments of the legislation, she noted, should be left to the experts. “Our aim is to present the data,” said Leal. “We still don’t know what a good law is when it comes to tackling disinformation. At Lupa, we don’t believe legislation is a unique way to tackle misinformation, and not even the best way.”

Photo via Pexels by CQF-Avocat. This article was originally published on IJNet.

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