The purpose of this paper is to explore the risks of privatised enforcement in the field of terrorism propaganda, stemming from the EU Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online. By shedding light on this Code, the author argues that implementation of it may undermine the rule of law and give rise to private censorship. In order to outweigh these risks, IT companies should improve their transparency, especially towards users whose content have been affected. Where automated means are used, the companies should always have in place some form of human intervention in order to contextualise posts. At the EU level, the Commission should provide IT companies with clearer guidelines regarding their liability exemption under the e-Commerce Directive. This would help prevent a race-to-the bottom where intermediaries choose to interpret and apply the most stringent national laws in order to secure at utmost their liability. The paper further articulates on the fine line that exists between ‘terrorist content’ and ‘illegal hate speech’ and the need for more detailed definitions.
This case study provides an overview of the ‘fake news’ phenomenon in Belgium. In light of the 2018 Reuters Report, it starts by sketching the present media landscape in Belgium. It then enquires whether Belgians are concerned about ‘fake news’; what their level of trust is in the media; which media sources are favoured by them, and what their level of media literacy is. After analysing these facts and figures, the emergence of ‘fake news’, through foreign political events, is discussed. Different examples of Belgian ‘fake news’ are then presented, which range from ‘hoaxes’ to misleading and inaccurate news articles stemming from qualified journalists. By means of these examples, the ambiguities of the term ‘fake news’, as an umbrella term to cover a wide variety of content, are explained. Given the vagueness of the term, it is submitted that ‘disinformation’ is a more appropriate term to use. Having regard to the possible impact of this type of ‘news’ on democracy, this case study strives to shed light on Belgian politicians and their relation with ‘fake news’. By means of examples, the author argues that they increasingly use the term ‘fake news’ to discredit news media. Moreover, they tend to by-pass traditional media, through their social media accounts, thereby contributing to the emergence of ‘fake news’. The lack of editorial oversight on social media allows for false messages to be spread. In order to propose measures to counter ‘fake news’ in Belgium, the case study provides an overview of different responses that have already been put in place. Besides responses at the EU level (including the Council of Europe), the overview includes governmental responses, news media responses, civil society responses and responses stemming from collaborations with IT companies. Taking account of these measures, various recommendations are proposed in the Conclusion. It is argued that both short and long-term actions should be developed. Having regard to the forthcoming Belgian elections, the former would be necessary and should, inter alia, aim to enhance the transparency of social media platforms. Regarding the latter, it is argued that media literacy measures should be further built upon.
“Nepnieuws” heeft de laatste tijd veel aandacht gekregen in de media en in het politieke debat. Tegen deze achtergrond en in het licht van de potentiële bedreigingen van “nepnieuws” voor de Nederlandse samenleving is de opdracht voor deze studie gegeven door het ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap. Het doel van dit rapport is om een update te geven over de stand van zaken met betrekking tot het onderwerp “methodes om de verspreiding van nepnieuws tegen te gaan”. Het rapport beantwoordt de volgende vragen: Welke methodes zijn er internationaal bekend om nepnieuws tegen te gaan? Wat is bekend over de effectiviteit van deze methodes? Welke kwalificaties kunnen gemaakt worden over de toepasbaarheid en relevantie van deze onderzoeksresultaten voor de Nederlandse context?
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