Governments worldwide are taking various steps to counter the scourge of fake news, which may be driven by different motivations, but most onerous are those that serve as a tool for disinformation; i.e. to undermine national security. Key among these steps is the introduction of new legislation:
- New laws that are being proposed or have been passed would give governments more powers to hold technology companies (e.g., Facebook, Twitter and Google) and individuals accountable for the spread of fake news.
- Laws would also seek to counter the impact of automated social media accounts (bots). In response, technology companies have intensified efforts to defend themselves and are enhancing capabilities to detect and remove fake news.
- At present, it is too early the gauge the impact of legislation.
Legislation however would face certain challenges and thus should be complemented by a continuum of non-legislative measures including:
- Pre-emptive measures that are focused on an issue (i.e., elections) and supplemented by continuous collaborative engagements with the industry, non-governmental sector and regional fora;
- Immediate measures that comprise an agile crisis communications plan and fact-checking initiatives; and
- Long-term measures that strengthen social resilience through media literacy, inculcation of social norms on responsible information sharing, and defining the responsibilities of technology companies.
Going forward, a multi-pronged strategy that comprises both legislation and non-legislative measures — given that each have their challenges — would form a more sustainable bulwark against fake news.
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Last updated on 16/04/2018