Since the tragic attack on two mosques in Christchurch earlier this month, Australian leaders have raised concerns that social media platforms have become facilitators, if not full-on enablers, of the spread of terrorist ideas and content. The government appears to be considering far-reaching criminal sanctions if social media executives do not comply with newly planned measures to address the problem.
South African media has been criticised on social media for its initially superficial and underwhelming coverage of the massive floods in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in the wake of the devastating Tropical Cyclone Idai. Serious news consumers had to rely on foreign news sources instead of local media as the grim picture of the destruction – which included hundreds of deaths, flooding, disease and havoc to resources and infrastructure – started emerging.
Although the carnage was condemned extensively across geographical borders, some reporting in England and Canada has been troubling.
Transparency is needed from Facebook to ensure it is free from any political pressures. This will also empower its users to take action in fighting hoaxes and misinformation.
The federal budget has finally answered some of the questions about the Liberal government’s plans to subsidize the news business, which were first floated late last year. But the details revealed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau raises many more questions about Ottawa’s reasons for supporting journalism.
Public trust in media continues to hover near all-time lows, driven by perceptions that the news industry is partisan and peddles inaccurate information (“fake news”), as well as ambivalence about news from social media. According to a new Knight Foundation report on news media trust, transparency is a key factor in restoring trust.
When French president Emmanuel Macron sent an open letter to the people of Europe, he said their first freedom is democratic – “the freedom to choose our leaders as foreign powers seek to influence our vote at each election”. He went on to propose establishing a European agency to protect this right. The idea would be to provide European states with experts to help them fend off cyberattacks and other kinds of threats to their elections.
Ottawa has finally announced the details of how it will offer financial assistance to the country’s struggling news media industry — a controversial policy that will lead to suggestions that journalistic independence is compromised by government funding.
Two basic rules of media ethics apply to the coverage of terrorism: avoid giving unnecessary oxygen to the terrorist, and avoid unnecessarily violating standards of public decency. The way to do this is to apply a test of necessity: what is necessary to publish to give the public a sufficiently comprehensive account of what has happened?
Democracy and social progress die without science and fact-based knowledge. Science and facts are the foundational basis for rational and logical disputation and the possibility of reaching some truths. Fake news, on the other hand, is a calculated assault on democratic freedoms.