Fake news is a new name for an old problem, Digital Policy Min Pappas says

Fake news is a new name for an old problem, Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media Nikos Pappas said on Monday.

Pappas was speaking at the “Global Progress Forum 2017” held for a second year in Montreal, Canada, bringing together 200 representatives from 20 countries

“In Greece we have often seen traditional media produce fake news,” Pappas said, adding that he wants to underline the fact that the social media, while bringing with them many threats, also offer opportunities.

Pappas was a guest speaker at a panel of the forum entitled: “Renovating Democracy for the Digital Age”, together with Ariana Huffington, founder of Huffington Post, Reid Hoffman, Linkedin co-founder and Steve Huffman, CEO of Reddit, according to a statement by the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media.

The topic of the discussion – coordinated by Berggruen Institute Executive Vice-President Dawn Nakagawa – was the revolutionary change in how information reaches people, but also in the way people communicate with each other after the advent of social media, information and communications technology, and the urgent need for the “refurbishment” of democracy after the advent of fake news and the increasing polarisation of public debate.

The minister among other things, stressed the need to avoid a new ‘witch-hunt’ in response to fake news and expressed the view that solutions to this problem will be found at an international level. An individual country can not tackle it effectively by itself, he added and pointed out that “there is already much debate on a European level on this subject, with Martin Schulz, as well as the Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, who has expressed her concerns.”

Moreover, he said that there were quite a few “revolutionary ideas”, such as imposing millions of dollars in fines on social media platforms that allow fake news traffic.

As far as Greece is concerned, he said the focus was now on the “intermediate zone,” explaining that if social media are on the one hand and traditional media on the other, we have the online media in the middle. In fact, he noted, their role was critical, “since what is a post on social media in the morning, has become news in online media by noon and reaches the TV channels by the evening.”