Spreading fake news incites divisions, global tensions: RSF

Spreading fake news incites divisions, global tensions: RSF

Unregulated online content has spread disinformation and propaganda that has widened political divisions around the world, aroused international tensions and even contributed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to an annual report by Reporters Without Borders.

More commonly known by its French acronym RSF, Reporters Without Borders warned that democratic societies are becoming increasingly fragmented by misinformation spread on social media, as well as an increase in opinion-based media driving a so-called “Fox News model”, citing controversial right-wing television network in the United States.

According to the RSF’s World Press Freedom Index 2022, despotic and autocratic regimes that strictly control information in their societies use their “asymmetrical” position to wage “propaganda wars” against democracies and incite divisions within them.

In a five-page summary published on Tuesday to coincide with World Press Freedom Day, the media watchdog says “polarization at these two levels fuels increased tension”, noting that in Russia, where state media is dominant, Ukraine invaded after a propaganda war.

RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire said: “The creation of media weapons in authoritarian countries eliminates their citizens’ right to information, but is also linked to the growing international tension – which could lead to the worst kind of war.”

He added that the “Fox News “ization of Western media also poses a” fatal danger to democracies because it undermines the foundations of civil harmony and tolerant public debate “.

Deloire has called on countries to adopt appropriate legal frameworks to protect democratic information spaces online.

Total record “very bad”

The situation is “very bad” in a record 28 countries, according to this year’s ranking of 180 countries and regions based on the degree of freedom that journalists enjoy.

The lowest ranked were North Korea in 180th place, followed by Eritrea (179th) and Iran (178th), with Myanmar (176th) and China (175th) close behind.

Russia and allies Belarus were also on its red list of the most repressive regimes for freedom of the press, finishing in 155th and 153rd place respectively.

At the same time, Hong Kong’s position plummeted dozens of seats to 148th place – reflecting Beijing’s efforts to use its “legislative arsenal to limit its population and cut it off from the rest of the world.”

The Nordic countries Norway, Denmark and Sweden once again topped the index and functioned as democratic models “where freedom of expression flourishes”.

The war in Ukraine increases the EU’s efforts against fake news while conspiracy theories are spread “Journalism is not incitement,” the United States said after being accused by Hong Kong journalists

However, the RSF praised Moldova (40th) and Bulgaria (91st) this year for government changes and “the hope it has given for improving the situation for journalists”, but noted that “oligarchs still own or control the media” in both.

Media polarization “fed and strengthened internal social divides in democratic societies” such as the United States, and ended up in 42nd place on the list.

That trend was even stronger in “illiberal democracies” such as Poland in 66th place, an EU country where the repression of independent media was also noted by the watchdog.

France has risen in the rankings over the past year from 34th to 26th place, but the RSF has called for mechanisms to deal with conflicts of interest in the French media as inadequate and outdated.

Launched Without Borders in 1985, Reporters Without Borders has been publishing the annual index since 2002 and has become a nail in the coffin of autocratic and despotic regimes around the world.

This year’s list was developed using a new method that redefines press freedom and uses five new indicators – political context, legal framework, economic context, socio-cultural context and security – to reflect its “complexity”.

Originally published on RFI

Spreading fake news incites divisions, global tensions: RSF

Source: sn.dk

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