Regulation and education needed to deal with fake news phenomenon, Seminar in Nicosia hears

Measures for self-regulation and penalties are needed to tackle the phenomenon of fake news, but what is most important is to educate people from a young age, speakers told a seminar in Nicosia on Monday.

The seminar titled ”Fake News: A phenomenon of manipulation in the modern world” was organized by the European Parliament Information Office in Cyprus, the Cyprus News Agency, the Union of Cyprus Journalists, the Cyprus Radio-Television Authority and the Cyprus Media Complaints Commission.

The speakers analysed the global phenomenon and how it is associated with journalism. George Economides, CEO of COM2GO Group said that the biggest source of fake news is mainly the Internet and the social media. He added that only 12% of fake news is being propagated in pre-election periods. Economides added that according to surveys, people under the age of 49 nowadays get most of their information via the internet. He said that someone can find out if something is false or not by looking at the website that published it, the source of the news, whether it has a source reference, is circulated on another website or somewhere else.

Cyprus Media Complaints Commission Head George Pavlides in his speech said that the causes for false or fake news are mainly the high website traffic that leads to creating a bait news Story as well as the time pressure. He added that we live in an era of urban legends known as Hoaxes, Internet trolls, Fake news, a time when rumours and false news overshadow the real facts. According to Pavlides, on way to deal with the phenomenon is to educate people from a young age and to organize seminars, workshops and conferences with specialized speakers.

George Frangos, Head of the the Union of Cyprus Journalists, said that to produce fake or false news is nowadays easier and also very dangerous and risky but at the same time has a stronger effect on people. He added that fake news are toxic for the democracy, for pluralism and free press. Frangos said that in Cyprus fake news are mostly related to politics and to a lesser degree to economy and lifestyle.

Isidoros Kolotas, Member of the Board of Directors of the Cyprus Radio-Television Authority in his speech said that spreading fake news on the internet is considered by some as the scourge of the digital era . He added that the economic crisis has affected the media but expressed the view that there can be a kind of correction of the situation.

Chairman of CNA Board Larkos Larkou told the participants about what the agency is doing to deal with the phenomenon , adding that each time the agency is faced with the issue, it turns to specialists for suggestions. He also said that there could be a Mechanism that will monitor the fake news.

Source: Cyprus News Agency