The biggest threats to global security are ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation,’ according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The 2024 WEF Global Risks Report says addressing ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ take priority, even over extreme weather events, war, terrorist attacks and inflation.
Its 19th iteration appears just one week before politicians, business leaders, and activists meet in Davos, Switzerland for the annual WEF Summit.
"Emerging as the most severe global risk anticipated over the next two years, foreign and domestic actors alike will leverage misinformation and disinformation to further widen societal and political divides," the report reads.
The global consortium warned that peddling false narratives contributes to civil unrest and "undermines the legitimacy" of governments.
In September 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Emergencies Act inquiry that social media had become a petri dish for 'anger' and 'hate' that destabilizes democracy.
However, most Canadians, even those opposed to 'harmful content,' contend the individual is capable of deciding which content to consume without government intrusion.
Attorney General Arif Virani provided no examples of legal content they would censor when asked by reporters last November. Among the categories of harm earlier identified by Parliament included 'hate speech' and terrorist content.
"Beyond elections, perceptions of reality are likely to also become more polarized, infiltrating the public discourse on issues ranging from public health to social justice," reads Global Risks. To counter misinformation and disinformation, it says governments may be compelled to control information based on its determination of the truth.
"Freedoms relating to the internet, press and access to wider sources of information that are already in decline risk descending into broader repression of information flow across a wider set of countries," the report added.
A July 29, 2021, Technical Paper and Discussion Paper said Canada pondered hiring a Digital Safety Commissioner to investigate anonymous complaints, conduct closed-door hearings and block websites, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.
Bill C-36, An Act To Amend The Criminal Code, pledged to criminalize "online hate" through greater regulation of the internet. However, it died on the order paper when Trudeau called a snap election in August 2021.
The federal government committed to reintroducing the internet censorship bill by December 31, but delays have stalled public consultations.
"Even as the insidious spread of misinformation and disinformation threatens the cohesion of societies, there is a risk that some governments will act too slowly," said Global Risks, "facing a trade-off between preventing misinformation and protecting free speech, while repressive governments could use enhanced regulatory control to erode human rights."
Rebel News will report to you live at this year's WEF summit, which starts Monday.