Our panel of Danish and international experts will discuss the proliferation of Fake News, and what it means for the erosion of public trust in mainstream media and democratic institutions.
Below a chance to get a little closer and perhaps prepare a question or two in advance.
Russian journalist and editor-in-chief of The Insider, a Russian online newspaper dedicated to investigative journalism as well as political and economic analysis.
“Russia has been making the headlines of international media for a while now. But none of that had to do with a strong economy or a powerful army because Russia simply doesn’t have either. Instead, it has learned to interfere through other means in the politics, media, elections and national security of other countries. (…) The new methods of Russian influence are well-known, but it seems that Western countries have turned out to be unprepared for them.
Russia’s new information warfare is more powerful and effective than Soviet propaganda. But no matter how inventive Moscow is in using new technologies for information warfare, it still has the same vulnerability which led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union – propaganda is useless if it is not backed with soft power, or the power of being a model nation.
Hackers and trolls might help you discredit the opponent, but they cannot create a positive image of your country, when it is a poor, unfree state with rampant corruption, backward education, and a weak healthcare system.
Yes, Russia is a serious threat to the West in the sense that it can encourage the growth of the ultra-conservative and populist forces, pushing for disintegration and nationalism – all this might affect negatively economic growth and security. But the problem is that Moscow does not really get anything out of it.”
The extract is from an article published at Al-Jazeera, 27 February 2017
Researcher affiliated with the Arena venture, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), dedicated solely to the issue of disinformation and 21st century propaganda.
“New media and the information revolution have not only empowered access to information but also fueled the spread of disinformation. Such is the scale of the problem that the World Economic Forum has defined misinformation as one of the world’s most urgent problems. Corrupt, neo-authoritarian rulers have become skilled at using disinformation to confuse their opposition, break down trust and fracture civil society.
Increasingly, disinformation is used as a weapon by closed societies to attack more open ones. Inside democracies whole segments of society are pulled into alternative realities which are manipulated by violent extremists and dominated by conspiracy theories. Some commentators have even speculated that we are entering a “post-fact” age where political candidates reinvent reality on a whim. This poses a danger to deliberative democracy and good governance: if we cannot agree on the facts, debate and decision-making break down.
“Fact-checking” has become an increasingly popular way to fight back against the deluge of disinformation. Having originated in the US, the movement is growing throughout the world, from the information wars of Ukraine through to the Middle East and Latin America. It is a young discipline still working out how it can maximize its impact.”
The extract is from the report “Facts We Can Believe In: How to Make Fact-Checking Better”, of which Alistair Shawcross is the author.
Award-winning Paris-based investigative journalist and Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow at INSEAD Business School Social Innovation Centre. Author of “The Power is Everywhere” about stakeholder-driven media.
“First, the erosion of trust in mainstream media was not caused by fake news or by social media. It’s a secular trend that began decades ago. That’s precisely what created the opening for fake news. If we are going to ask why fake news is rising, it’s not just because governments find it useful. It’s also because the news industry’s product was hollowed out by downsizing and reliance on PR to fill the formats. (60% of UK daily content was press releases as of 2006). We cannot continue to pretend that fake news is succeeding only because it is stupid, or because of Facebook, or because of any other excuse. We failed the public, over and over, and they went looking for someone else to believe in. They’ll come back when we do a better job.
Second, fake news is built on the breakdown of our societies into tribes. The latest studies on the media use of the Trump movement’s members really confirm this trend. The people who read the dreadful Gateway Pundit and Infowars and the people who read the NYT are not the same people. We must recognise that the “general public” is not so general anymore. That does not mean we are doomed, it means we have to change our marketing and value propositions. That includes being transparent about whose side we’re on. The people who back Marine Le Pen think they’ve been screwed by their elites with the help of the news media, and they are largely right.
Third, there is still a market for TRUE news. That’s what my work is largely about — finding audiences that need to know what’s going on, and giving them the facts they need to prevail. This is very different from telling people what we think they need to know. It’s about empowering people, rather than instrumentalising them, which is what fake news does.”
Senior journalist and editor of the respected analytical online Danish media Mandag Morgen which has established the fact-checking unit TjekDet.
“We do not know the extent of fake news online, but there is a growing feeling that the phenomenon has become a lucrative channel for all kinds of people who have an interest in either undermining democracy or making money on fierce clicking.
But networks, new coalitions and technological solutions cannot – regardless of their big impact – attack and remove those who right now have kidnapped the concept of false news. In their war against the media, the US president and his people recently have kidnapped the very concept of “fake news” and shamefully abused it because it is currently popular to beat up the media.”
The extract is from a column published at the Danish online media Altinget, 10 February 2017
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