“Opinions on how to tackle the issue of fake news vary widely. But there is one thing on which all MEPs agree: No one wants a Ministry of Truth à la George Orwell”.
This was one of the conclusions of our challenging dinner debate on the topic “Fake news, fake democracy. Fighting post-truth and alternative facts in Europe”.
Most political decision makers agree that it is urgent to fight the current proliferation of fake news. However, there is much less consensus on how to fight them.
That is why we decided to organise – together with one leading expert on the topic, the European Audiovisual Observatory – an informal debate, exclusively reserved to MEPs, to shed light on: What tools and techniques can help people develop skills to critically evaluate media messages? Which responsibilities do the owners of social media have to reduce the spreading of fake news? Which role do the traditional media have in mitigating damages resulting from fake news? What is it that both companies and governments should do to reduce fake news and misinformation fall out?
The debate was opened by the interventions of three main experts on the topic: Judge Robert Spano, judge at the European Court of Human Rights (President of Section II) – who has worked on several cases related to online freedom of expression, and two MEPs very active on the field of internet policies and, more in detail, on the future of news, online propaganda and fake news, i.e. MEP Marietje Schaake and MEP Axel Voss.
The debate was excellently moderated by Ms Maja Cappello, head of department of legal information at the European Audiovisual Observatory of the Council of Europe.