The Misinformation Village at DEFCON 30: A Social Space for Truth in a World of Disinformation

In the face of growing threats posed by disinformation and misinformation, DEFCON 30, one of the world’s largest hacker conventions, hosted the second iteration of the Misinformation Village in Las Vegas, USA, from August 12-13, 2022. Underpinned by a mission to expose, analyze, and counter the security challenges of disinformation campaigns on democratic regimes, free markets, and open societies, the Village convened a diverse group of experts from academia, civil society, government, and industry.

The Misinformation Village sought to establish open and broad-sector frameworks that encourage collaboration, transparency, and reproducibility. By providing a common platform for researchers to share data, tools, and knowledge, the Village aimed to accelerate scientific discovery and foster informed policy decisions. The Village’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity ensured a rich tapestry of unorthodox ideas, unfinished projects, and robust debates.

The goals of the Misinformation Village were multifaceted. They included engaging technologists, hackers, builders, civil society, defense, and law enforcement communities through rich content, workshops, hackathons, and challenges. The Village sought to engage with media professionals and storytellers on the subject of emerging tech, democracy challenges, and information warfare. It aimed to address open-knowledge infrastructure deficits and vulnerabilities within existing information ecosystems. The Misinformation Village also provided a continuous and resilient space for trust, safety, and civic integrity professionals to engage with the industry.

The event encapsulated a broad spectrum of themes, including information integrity, civic integrity, cryptography, accountability, capacity-building, and legal frameworks. The Village invited proposals exploring security risk assessments, thread models, responses, and analysis of the broader information landscape, with a particular focus on tools for information verifiability, community guidelines, and the role of decentralized protocols and cryptography in building trust in digital media.

Over two days, the Misinformation Village hosted numerous workshops, lightning talks, and fireside chats. These sessions covered a range of topics from the hybrid strategies of autocratic states, gendered health misinformation online, and cognitive security, to the history of the weaponization of social media. The workshops presented tools for fighting disinformation and techniques for detecting and assessing mass disinformation operations.

The Misinformation Village served as a beacon of truth in a world increasingly plagued by disinformation. By fostering a multidimensional dialogue among a diverse group of experts, the Village has taken a critical step forward in curbing the rising tide of misinformation and disinformation. As the world continues to grapple with the challenges posed by disinformation, the lessons learned and connections made at the Misinformation Village will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping a more resilient future.

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