05 Apr 2018

EU panel calls out politicians who abuse the term ‘fake news’

A European Parliament committee has directed politicians not to use the term “fake news” to attack legitimate reporting that is critical of their political agenda. 

Janna Brancolini
Janna Brancolini Kheiro Magazine, Italy
Source: Kheiromag
EU panel calls out politicians who abuse the term ‘fake news’ - NewsMavens
EU flag, Wikicommons.

Why this story matters:

Finally, an official body has recognized that “fake news” --  the practice of distributing fictitious stories disguised as political news --  is a real problem that has undermined elections and public institutions in Europe.

But its resolution , which essentially is an advisory report on media pluralism and freedom in Europe , noted that claims of fake news “should never be aimed at undermining public trust in the media and at discrediting and criminalizing critical voices.”

The civil liberties committee's vote has new urgency following the brutal murders of two investigative journalists.

The text explicitly condemned the October killing of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was investigating corruption claims found in the Panama Papers. Since it was introduced in committee in December, a second journalist, Slovak Ján Kuciak, was also assassinated along with his fiancee.

media,fake news,politics

Details from the story:

  • On Tuesday, the European Parliament’s Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs voted 44 to 3 for a non-legislative resolution condemning politicians who misuse the term "fake news" to describe legitimate reporting that is critical of their actions.  
  • The resolution, which centers on media pluralism and freedom in Europe, also called for investment in digital literacy programs.
  • MEP Barbara Spinelli of Central Italy, who drafted the resolution, said it "stresses the need to protect whistleblowers and encryption-related rights, calls for the chilling effects of defamation laws to be recognized [and] warns against arbitrary impositions of states of emergency."
  • The resolution now heads to the full Parliament, which will debate its text in plenary session on April 16. 
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