Media misinformation – is it possible to solve the problem through prohibitions?
For several years now, the topic of fake or truly false information has not left the pages of magazines, newspapers, news sites, television programs.
Fake news in the media is not a recent invention. But only recently, the massiveness of this phenomenon has made public attention.
We must say that in a very short period, the methods of delivering information to a specific person have changed significantly, if earlier they were newspapers, television, now with billions of people having a mobile phone, round-the-clock Internet access and constant presence in social networks, the speed of information dissemination has significantly increased.
Nowadays, traditional media have been supplemented with websites, blogs, social networks that not only compete with them, but also often crowd out into the background. These new sources of information allow millions of people to share information materials with one click, without any filters and controls.
What is the danger of the spread of this phenomenon and how to deal with it? These are questions that need to be answered.
Obviously, the number of fake news during the campaign period is especially clearly increasing. Politicians either make promises that exceed their ability to fulfill or use disinformation to discredit and denigrate their opponents.
An example immediately comes to mind when the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Maya Sandu, arrived in the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia in the south of Moldova for an official event and, after her speech, information was thrown into the media that she spoke while a flag of the Russian Federation was in the background.
The purpose of this publication was to blacken the image and the need to cause new debate in society. By distributing this fake photo and criticizing the Prime Minister, they caught in their network well-intentioned people who expressed their perplexity and dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister’s gesture.
In addition, we can recall another case with the same Maya Sandu, when during the campaign for the presidency, she was accused of allegedly promising to accept 30 thousand refugees in Moldova during her meeting with German Chancellor A. Merkel
“The story of the Syrians” was not accidentally chosen as a scarecrow for the electorate of Maya Sandu. Those who created this fake relied on the fear of Moldovan citizens against a possible wave of immigrants (fueled, inter alia, by information about the alleged damage caused by migrants in European countries, especially in Germany, which is spread by Russian television channels relayed in the Republic of Moldova).
Obviously, the impact of this kind of fake is impossible to evaluate. But they damage the politician’s reputation and they definitely affect the choice that voters want to make.
And we can’t ignore such phenomena.
In addition, we can mention fake news, which can create financial problems for both an individual citizen and an entire country. For example, recently, on one news portal of R. Moldova, information was posted that the country’s tax service supervised all transfers from abroad to individuals in Moldova.
It is known that annually in Moldova the amount of transfers from abroad to individuals coming through banking systems, as well as through instant money transfer systems (Western Union, RIA, Golden Crown, Unistream, etc.) is at least 1 billion US dollars.
Obviously, this kind of unverified information can create financial problems for many people, since in Moldova a very large percentage of the population practically survives due to transfers received from working relatives abroad.
The State Tax Service refutes this information, clarifying that money transfers from abroad are not taxed, with some minor exceptions.
Today, on one hand, we are seeing ease of access to a wide variety of information, and on the other hand, we have received virtually powerful weapons for quickly manipulating large masses of people.
The issue of restricting the distribution of fake information is very sensitive. After all, if we say that we trust someone, it is up to a judge, to determine the degree of reliability of information, then we may inevitably encounter a violation of one of the fundamental rights to freedom of receipt and distribution of information.
Today, each of the users of the social network is both a source and a distributor of information.
At the same time, with such attempts at regulation, it is most often not considered that if the media had a rather strong influence on the events taking place in society, today it is much easier and more elegant. Each Internet user is a link in the information chain through which news is distributed, he can create fake content and distribute it publicly. Thus, the process of transmitting information occurs very quickly without the participation of the media.
And the flow of contradictory and fake news will only increase, because Internet users will share what they think is interesting and accurate.
It should be noted that it is necessary to regulate this problem very carefully, and it is almost impossible to fight with the help of prohibitions.
Obviously, the control and supervision state bodies do not have knowledge of the absolute truth and there is a real danger that, trusting these bodies to control the spreading of information, we can get another dictatorship.
We can only talk about, on the one hand, restricting the possibility of disseminating fake information, and on the other hand, making efforts to disseminate as much knowledge as possible on how to recognize this information.
Obviously, without organized international wide discussion, the problem of the spread of misinformation is almost impossible to solve at the local level.