My Net Take: “Avoid Censorship, Dilute Fake News with Quality”

My Net Take: “Avoid Censorship, Dilute Fake News with Quality”

Since January 2018, I joined the High-Level Expert Group on “Fake News” set up by Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. 39 stakeholders advised on disinformation across traditional and social media, and actions to take. I was rapporteur of the subgroup representing the press (this is also about media policy at large), but write in personal capacity.

You will see several points of interest in the report (link here): Code of practices & stakeholder coalition; training initiatives; cooperation with platforms on indicators, providing more visibility for quality content; policy frame, notably European strategy for the media sector 2019-2024, and use of any relevant EU instruments, including the powerful competition rules…

Let me summarise my ‘net take’, in simple words (I am re-gaining my freedom after the confidential stage, but do not quote the HLEG report before the embargo). One motto I suggested for our findings could be:

“Avoid censorship, dilute fake news with quality”.

Further, here are blunt answers to four legitimate questions:

Did we fulfill our mandate as High-Level Group?
Yes! Every stakeholder engaged constructively. And, the end of April Communication of the Commission on disinformation is likely to take most of our recommendations on board.

Will this have a real impact?
Certainly! Because the follow-up is based co-regulation, meaning ‘carrots and sticks’. First, there will be a voluntary Code to guide stakeholders. And then further policy initiatives if this proves not sufficient.

Would this impact be timely?
Probably! To put positive pressure on all, notably platforms, there are two review points before the EU elections of May 2019. Our High-Level Group and a broader conference will both meet in November 2018. And based on some independent assessment, the Commission will issue its findings and next steps in March 2019.

Will there still be fake news after 2019?

Of course! They are fast moving targets. Even their formats will keep changing. Our efforts are not about rooting them out but reducing their number and their reach. It’s like vaccinating people against viruses and reducing exposure to contaminated areas. “

Now, our report is really good but rather long, understandably: it would seem technocratic to ‘the woman in the street’. Perhaps even to some journalists on the front of fighting fake news? So, to keep things simple, here are further 8 quotes and 5 visual illustrations (all without ©, please just mention source: EURACTIV @LeclercqEU). Feed-back and reactions welcome.


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