How (not) to make politics with “fake news”

After Brussels, Berlin is joining the fight against “disinformation” and “fake news”. The apparently so noble fight does not come without dangers.

When the German interior ministers meet in Erfurt (Germany) this week, they want to talk about “targeted false reports, conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns”.

The Coronoa pandemic is ebbing noticeably, but according to the ministers there is now a threat of an “infodemia” with targeted false reports.

The EU Commission is also worried. Last week, it expanded its “info-war” and for the first time accused China of deliberate disinformation.

But the apparently so noble fight, which has also been joined by journalists’ associations and news agencies, is misleading. At least in the way it has been fought so far.

For one thing, it is directed almost exclusively against the new “social” media on the Internet. Ducks and false reports in the old media are not being addressed.

Yet there were plenty of them in the Corona crisis, even in Germany. Even the public media were not free of them when they took over government information without checking it.

On the other hand, people pretend that fake news only comes from “evil” foreign actors from Russia and China. In this context, German and European politicians have also told a lot of nonsense in recent weeks.

The examples are legion. It started with a “light flu”, then the usefulness of masks was denied, and finally the approaching “shutdown” was denied – until it came.

From this experience – the misinformation of politics and the conformism of the old media, which were all too close to the government – the need for “alternative” information on the Internet is now being fed.

Politics and the media are partly to blame for the phenomenon they now lament. If they really wanted to take action against “fake news” and disinformation, they would also have to work through their own mistakes.

Against the free press

But the main problem is a different one. The supposedly so noble struggle in the name of “truth” can be turned all too easily against the free press, as we see in the USA and Hungary.

US President Trump uses “Fake News” as a fighting term, which he puts up against CNN and the “New York Times”. And Orban uses “fake news” as a pretext for a state of emergency.

This shows that we’re dealing with a double-edged sword. The fear of “infodemia” can all too easily be used to maintain or expand power…

Translated with (free version) The original post (in German) is here

Keine Schlagwörter.