FakeEU: France moves to fight the ‘manipulation of information’ instead of ‘fake news’

The staged death of Arkady Babchenko, a Russian journalist living in Kiev known for his critical views of the Kremlin, made headlines all over Europe.

Although Babchenko and Ukrainian secret services claimed his death was staged in order to catch his alleged Russian hitman, several publications reacted critically. Deutsche Welle and The Guardian, for instance, wrote that the episode risks permanently damaging the media’s credibility.

Meanwhile, France continues to be the principal political laboratory in Europe for legislative acts against the dissemination of fake news.

After the French Constitutional Council published its opinion on a law against misinformation drafted by President Emmanuel Macron’s government, the Cultural Affairs Committee of Parliament debated and amended the text. The law now aims at fighting the “manipulation of information” instead of “fake news” per se.

Continua su Poynter, 06.06.2018

Politicians in Europe are still arguing about what fake news is and what to do about it

A new survey conducted by Censuswide suggests that citizens have been turning towards traditional high-quality media outlets since the spread of fake news became a topic of public interest. According to the results of the study, 75 percent of respondents reach out to “credible” sources because of the presence of disinformation online. Moreover, 26 percent associate “fake news” with“social media platforms.”

The French Constitutional Council published its opinion on the law against misinformation drafted by President Emmanuel Macron’s government earlier this year.

While recognizing the need for new legislative measures to combat the growing threat of online misinformation, the council specified that new legislation should exclusively target fake news that is “intentionally spread.”

Following the council’s opinion, the French Parliament is expected to discuss the bill by June. Meanwhile, the Minister of Culture Françoise Nyssen discussed the issue of disinformation in Strasbourg together with the law’s rapporteur Bruno Studer. Both insisted that, besides regulatory measures, “media literacy will play a fundamental role” in the future of the battle against fake news.

Continua su Poynter, 23.05.2018

FakEU roundup: Strategy emerges to fight misinformation, establish guidelines

At the end of April, the European Commission (EC) released a Communication outlining its strategy to tackle the spread of misinformation online.

At the end of April, the European Commission (EC) released a Communication outlining its strategy to tackle the spread of misinformation online.

The document says that four principles should guide future policies and the behaviour of media and social media platforms:

  • Improving transparency on the origin of information.

  • Promoting diversity of information.

  • Enhancing the credibility of media sources.

  • Fashioning inclusive solutions that comprehend all relevant stakeholders.

Continua su Poynter, 09.05.2018

Photo CC Flickr: Kevin White

FakEU roundup: Syria gas attack, UK poisoning prompt accusations of misinformation

Two weeks ago, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Wassili Nebensja, called the chemical attack in Douma “fake news” created by Syrian rebels and Western powers. Some right-wing politicians across Europe, such as Italy’s Matteo Salvini, echoed this narrative.

Over the past few weeks, the discussion on misinformation has closely tracked major geopolitical developments.

Two weeks ago, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Wassili Nebensja, called the chemical attack in Douma “fake news” created by Syrian rebels and Western powers. Some right-wing politicians across Europe, such as Italy’s Matteo Salvini, echoed this narrative.

Downing Street rejected these accusations. In the aftermath of the military strike organized by France, Great Britain and the U.S., authorities in Washington said that online activity of Russian-related trolls exploded (the precise numbers have been challenged by the DFR Lab). Meanwhile, Labor’s shadow Home secretary Diane Abbott was criticized for using an irrelevant composite picture in a tweet critical of the military operation in Syria.

Continua su Poynter, 25.04.2018

FakEU: Europe’s anti-fake news efforts get pushback

After the European Union’s high-level expert group on fake news presented its report to the press in early March, El Pais reported that Brussels won’t undertake specific legislative action against fake news.

After the European Union’s high-level expert group on fake news presented its report to the press in early MarchEl Pais reported that Brussels won’t undertake specific legislative action against fake news. On the contrary, the experts suggested that co- and self-regulation with — and by — the media sector are more effective tools to fight the spread of misinformation (Euractiv). Similar views were outlined in a different context by London Mayor Sadiq Khan as he spoke to a crowd at a South by Southwest (SXSW) conference.

Nevertheless, over the past few weeks, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel faced pressure again over the issue amid the outbreak of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. In a letter addressed to Gabriel, Julian King, the EU commissioner for security, called for a plan to counter the spread of fake news and digital propaganda via social networks.

Meanwhile, a group of lawyers from the Paris-based HEC institute and New York University filed a complaint with the European Ombudsman. The target of the legal action is the European External Action Service’s (EEAS) East Stratcom Disinformation Review, which catalogs articles that the EU believes to be Russian misinformation or propaganda. The lawyers claim that the recommendations set out by EUvsDisinfo are in violation of, among other rights, EU laws on freedom of expression (Le Monde). However, 16 international affair analysts took the side of the European service in an op-ed published on EUobserver.

Continua su Poynter, 11.04.2018

FakEU roundup: Officials are calling on journalists in the fight against fake news

In Austria, two weeks ago, the vice chancellor and leader of the far-right FPO party, Heinz-Christian Strache, was fined 10,000 euros for having accused ORF journalist Wolfgang Armin of spreading of fake news. In a similar row, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy accused the French media outlet Médiapart of having spread fake news against him in 2012, in relation to the ongoing Libyan-campaign finance case. Médiapart promptly replied to the accusations.

Last week, the president of the German Federal Republic, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, invited journalists and bloggers to discuss the spread of misinformation at his Bellevue residence in Berlin. Steinmeier called for traditional media and recognized information sources to stand out as “islands of trustworthiness” in the public sphere. Meanwhile, however, a new study conducted by the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung investigated the role played by traditional media outlets in the spread of fake news. The authors claimed that well-established media outlets, such as Bild and Die Welt, created fake news that were later exploited by right-wing politicians via social networks.

Continua su Poynter, 23.03.2018

This week in FakEU news: advances and pushback

A new study by the German conservative foundation, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, called for the EU to support fact-checking and media-literacy initiatives in the Western Balkans to tackle Russian propaganda.

In France, Emmanuel Macron’s proposed initiatives against fake news continue to make headlines. Last week, Le Monde got hold of the draft bill that aims to hinder the online diffusion of false information during campaigns. The document was forwarded by the Elysée to the deputies of the president’s party and outlines the guidelines of the future law. An extensive review of the document was published later by Next Inpact, and  a commentary can be found on HuffPost. The draft bill will need to be examined by the French Constitutional Council before entering the phase of Parliamentary debates at the end of April.

Meanwhile, the French Minister of Culture, Francoise Nyssen, spoke to Le Figaro about the legislative process kicked off by the government. Nyssen said that the law is necessary to safeguard the democratic system from abuse. Nevertheless, some analystscontend that the bill might emperil freedom of the press.

In Spain, Parliament’s National Security Committee called for the government to take action against fake news. Through a non-binding recommendation, the committee asked the government to actively participate at the EU level in the development of strategies against the threat. The left-wing coalition Unidos Podemos voted against the motion.

Continua su Poynter, 14.03.2018

FakEU#1: a roundup of the most interesting articles on misinformation from or about the EU

Much of the global conversation around “fake news” has centered around the United States. Yet increasingly it seems that actions in the European Union may have a more lasting effect on the misinformation ecosystem. For that reason, every fortnight starting today, we will be summarizing press coverage on the topic from or about the EU. To give Poynter readers perspectives they may not have encountered yet, we’ll be prioritizing articles written in languages other than English.

In its yearly report on the state of information consumption, the Italian communication authority (AGCOM) wrote that 2017 was “characterised by the rise of ‘fake news’ as a structural phenomenon within the media landscape.” According to a survey conducted by AGCOM, some 54 percent of Italian citizens claimed to access news through social platforms and algorithms. Interestingly, among the latter, only 24 percent defined the sources as “reliable.” In another survey, conducted by Demost, one out of two Italian citizens said they believed a story that turned out to be fake news on the internet. An analysis conducted by the Italian security service Department of Information Security (DIS) raised concerns about information biases caused by fake news agents in the context of the upcoming general election on March 4. However, the Italian Minister of the Interior, Marco Minniti, recently said that there is no concrete risk in sight.

In France, the debate surrounding Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to develop a law against fake news continues to make the headlines. On Feb. 13, the French Minister of Culture, Françoise Nyssen, announced that the law will enable public authorities to suspend the activities of media that are judged to act “under the influence of foreign powers,” and make space for a special judicial procedure aimed at identifying fake news. Some critical commentaries relative to Nyssen’s proposal can be read on Le Mondel’expressSlate.fr and Radio France International.

Continua su Poynter, 28.02.2018