Politicians can reduce the spreading of fake news

In cooperation with the Nordic Journalist Center, Nordicom was arranging an expert meeting on fake news in September. Among other things, the meeting discussed definitions of the concept, the responsibility of social media, media and information literacy and possible legislation. A report from the expert meeting is now available on Nordicom’s website
 | 24 November 2017

The phenomenon fake news is on top of the agenda worldwide as it is a serious threat to press freedom and freedom of expressions, because it not only spread disinformation but also tries to question the credibility of the media.

Against this background, Nordicom and the Nordic Journalist center, arranged an expert meeting on fake news in Copenhagen in September 2017. The aim was to present current knowledge and to identify areas where it is possible for the Nordic politicians to act in order to restrain consequences of fake news.

Based on the expert meeting, a report with recommendations was compiled and used as a basis for the Nordic ministers of culture before their ministerial meeting in Helsinki in late October/November. 

A problematic concept

The report highlights the definition of the concept "fake news" as problematic. The experts at the meeting agreed that we need to use more appropriate concepts than fake news, for example propaganda and disinformation. Using  fake news makes the phenomenon a problem for the news industry, whereas the terms disinformation or propaganda makes it a societal problem.

Social media to be held accountable

Social media are transmission channels with much less – if any – self-regulation than legacy media, and are therefore a very efficient instruments for those who want to spread disinformation. The experts agreed that social media need to be held accountable and tackle fake news on their platforms, through self-regulation. 

Media and Information Literacy

To be able to navigate in a changing media landscape is important. For new generations, the starting point for news use and discovering the complexity of society is social media. To create an understanding for both the complexity of the media and also for news evaluation is therefore an important task for the educational and the media sectors.

Free and pluralistic media

In the report, the group of experts rejects tackling fake news with legislation.  Instead they give a very clear advice to support free and pluralistic media, investigative journalism and self-regulation to increase trust in media.

The report from the meeting was discussed at the Nordic Council Session on November 1, and there was political consensus that the prioritised proposals should be followed up in Nordic co-operation.

Mia Jonsson Lindell

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