Stopping Disinformation Online with Dan Keyserling, COO of Jigsaw

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“Technology is an incredible, transformative force and it should always be accompanied by a serious conversation about how it’s affecting our society.” — Dan Keyserling

Dan Keyserling serves as Chief Operating Officer at Jigsaw, a unit within Alphabet that uses technology to make the world safer. At Jigsaw, Dan and his team are focused on “understanding the methodologies governments use to engage in disinformation operations.” 

“Fake news” has massively affected journalists and hijacked media platforms, especially in countries where the government has vested interests in manipulating the flow of information. More appropriately named, “disinformation campaigns,” these stories have key similarities that, if identified quickly, can help platforms stop the narrative before it is spread

“It’s more important than ever that we build things that can help journalists and platforms detect when media has been manipulated,” says Dan. 

When asked about solutions, Dan offers a list of platforms, apps, and APIs that can be used to help identify toxic information and suspicious activity. However, his bigger focus is on opening up the conversation with the broader tech community. This is a growing global issue and is going to take ongoing, widespread efforts to combat.

On this episode, Mission Producer, Austin Craig sits down with Dan to dive into the topic of ‘fake news’ — what it is and what it isn’t. Dan also shares how Jigsaw identifies disinformation campaigns online and how they are thinking about building solutions. 

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Quotes from Dan:

[On the phrase ‘fake news’] “The first thing I’d say is that information is becoming increasingly how nations wage war. The U.S. observed that pretty vividly in 2016, but this problem is really global. We’ve observed it everywhere from Venezuela to Ukraine to all across Europe. Pretty much everywhere you can look where governments have an interest in what people think about issues, there are efforts to manipulate the information environment.”

“Technology is absolutely one part of the equation, but we also have to address this issue in our culture- the culture of information online, how information moves around, and how we share information.”

“The inauthenticity that I think is really important to point out and that we can definitively identify is around fake accounts and not necessarily making a judgment around the information that’s being shared itself.”

“From our point of view, this is not something that one tech platform is going to solve by itself. This is going to require the technology industry coming together, sharing information about this and staying one step ahead of the threat on their platforms, and making sure they are making decisions that are responsible for themselves and their users.”


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