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Press and media freedom advocates have coalesced around a new plan to take on fake news. Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF) brought together news agency Agence France Presse (AFP), public broadcasting trade organization European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and editorial support group Global Editors Network (GEN) to form the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI). As described (See joint press statement here), internationally accepted standards will be “developed and implemented” to set apart real news from fake news.
“In the new public arena system, in which false information circulate faster than real news, the defence of journalism requires reversing this trend by giving a real advantage to all those who reliably produce news and information, whatever their status,” said RSF director general Christophe Deloire. Weak public confidence in news sources, traditional and otherwise, certainly correlates negatively with the rise of internet trolls and well-financed sources of disinformation. “The battle against the proliferation of misinformation and false news goes to the very heart of our mission,” said AFP Global News Director Michèle Léridon.
Fake news purveyors - and other related objectives - will be tackled through the EU product and services standards agency European Committee for Standardization (CEN). The CEN assists sector stakeholders in developing consensus standards for everything from chemicals and machinery to consumer products and packaging. The process - called a workshop agreement - officially begins in May and will report by the end of 2019.
Three CEN workshop agreements will be developed: transparency and disclosure, editorial methods and safeguards and editorial conduct. There will be a “white list.” Several media organizations and groups have have participated in the initial consultation. It’s an ambitious project.
In other fake new news: An administrative order from India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting setting out certain guidelines for journalists was withdrawn hours after initial distribution. The original order would have had accreditation withdrawn from any working journalist receiving a complaint, including from a politician. It was referred to as the “fall in line or else” rule, reported Media India (April 4). There was “a tsunami of backlash.” (See more about fake news here)
Facebook has removed more than 200 accounts and pages linked to the infamous Russian troll farm Internet Research Agency. “We don’t want them on Facebook,” said chief security officer Alex Stamos in a statement (April 3). Most were in the Russian language and were posted by the equally infamous Federal News Agency.
US president Donald Trump went on a Twitter tirade about US news outlets CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and the Washington Post branding them “fake news” while saluting semi-official propaganda outlet Fox News and far-right TV owner Sinclair Broadcasting. But, that’s really not news.