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Ask the expert: Matthew Swift of Concordia discusses his work with Digitalis on combatting disinformation and restoring trust

October 2022
 by Digitalis

Ask the expert: Matthew Swift of Concordia discusses his work with Digitalis on combatting disinformation and restoring trust

October 2022
 By Digitalis

Concordia is a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering, elevating, and sustaining cross-sector partnerships for social impact. One of Concordia’s focus areas is combatting disinformation and addressing the global crisis in trust, working with some of the world’s most powerful and critical institutions. Concordia and Digitalis are currently developing sessions at global conventions to present and discuss solutions to this issue.

Concordia’s co-founder & CEO Matthew Swift takes a few minutes to discuss the importance of this topic for all of us, and how we can work together across industries and continents to enable technology to be used in a way that benefits society across the globe.

1. Concordia is an organisation with a unique position – please tell us a little about what you do and why it matters.

We are conveners, and we look at convening as an art form. No issue, regardless of its complexity, can be addressed unless people connect properly to share experiences, best practices, and potential resources. We design and curate spaces aimed at ensuring those critical connection points take place. We are fiercely non-partisan, inclusive, and transparent, to ensure that the institutions and individuals who participate in our summits see the potential in partnerships to solve complex issues.

2. How did Concordia come to be involved in the digital space, and what has it achieved so far?

We became involved in the digital space at the very outset of our founding in 2011. The theme of our inaugural summit was the role of the private sector in combatting extremism. You simply cannot have this discussion without discussing digital platforms. Since that point, our focus on the digital space has only grown significantly, and in September we hosted a major series on the future of digital platforms and the responsibility of the private sector in combatting disinformation.

3. How did you get involved with Digitalis, how are your approaches aligned, and what digital challenges are you trying to solve together?

I was first introduced to Dave King and the important work of Digitalis many years ago through close mutual friends. It is hard not to be immediately taken with the value of the work Digitalis is doing on the frontlines to democratise SEO in a way that leads to more balanced content being presented online.

As an avid follower of news, I have both a personal and professional interest in the content that the major search engines and news sites present to me, and in ensuring issues are presented in a balanced way rather than prioritising content that is dramatic, negative and sometimes inaccurate. The media has such an important role to play in presenting coverage of the most important issues of our time, and with such a significant spread of disinformation in our online interactions, Digitalis is truly on the frontlines trying to level the playing field.         

We need to sound the alarm about the state of digital platforms today, and the urgent need to ensure they are held accountable and demonstrate genuine balance and accurate information. In my view, it is truly one of the most important issues of this time.

4. How does collaboration work at Concordia, and what benefits are gained from working with experts from different sectors and in different geographical locations?

Concordia is a membership organisation that offers opportunities for both institutions and individuals to be involved. Through our Global Patron Membership program, in which Digitalis is an active participant, organisations can access our Annual Summit in New York along with our regional series, which includes summits in Europe, the Americas, and Africa. In 2023 we will be hosting major summits in Miami, Madrid, New York and the Amazon. A great example of our 2023 plans is demonstrated through this powerful speech announcing the creation of the Concordia Amazon Initiative.

Connecting is critical, and nothing replaces that human-to-human interaction. Those who join us learn about some of the most complex issues of our time, while networking within a powerful global community and opening up important opportunities. You can find out more about us at www.concordia.net and @concordiasummit.

5. Finally, what digital trends and challenges are emerging that particularly interest you, and what social impact could they have in the future?

Disinformation and the subsequent and significant lack of trust that is spreading around the world pose a clear and present danger to democratic societies. A number of companies are working on the frontlines to combat disinformation, leading exciting ventures that will better inform consumers of information about the balance and accuracy of the content they see. I am also excited to see the important leadership role of the private sector continue to evolve, because the government cannot fully address this issue alone.

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