Back to news

Internews Partner Hosts Discussion on the Use of Legal Measures to Counter Disinformation

December 18 – USAID Media Program in Ukraine’s (Internews) partner The Center for Democracy and Rule of Law hosted the online discussion “Disinformation Barometer: What Should Pressure of the Law Be?”.

The event attracted 29 media experts, lawyers, journalists, public officials and representatives of international organizations.

Moderator: Tetiana Avdeieva (media lawyer, Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law, CEDEM)
Speakers: Mykyta Poturayev (chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy),
Diana Dutsyk (Institute of Media and Communications),
Olexandr Burmagin (Human Rights Platform),
Roman Holovenko (Institute of Mass Information, IMI),
Anna Lytvyshchenko (National Council for TV and Radio Broadcasting),
Igor Rozkladay (CEDEM), and
Alyona Romaniuk (Factchecking project “Behind the News”).

USAID Media Program in Ukraine chief of party Gillian McCormack delivered opening remarks. Among her recommendations to experts, McCormack suggested “that the law should improve the financial conditions for independent media to exist – there should be no room for concentration and trust building in the sphere of advertising. It should be legally mandatory for schools for all age groups to teach media and digital literacy. The national media regulator should sanction and withdraw the license from broadcasters that fail to meet their license conditions, among which should be truthful and accurate reporting. Social media platforms should be obliged to remove or at least de-prioritize content that contains hate speech, or which is identified as spreading dangerous and misleading information.”

Among the major takeaways:
Mykyta Poturayev expressed his doubt in the effectiveness of media literacy efforts. He instead highlighted the cultivation of critical thinking. Poturayev said the law cannot prevent distribution of disinformation, in his view. However, he expressed a strong belief in co-regulation in media, where different media stakeholders set up and monitor professional rules.

Diana Dutsyk called for a complex approach to countering disinformation, because it’s not just a media issue. Dutsyk highlighted the importance of education in raising the level of critical thinking in society, since it is impossible to regulate the number of social networks and other information dissemination tools with a single law.

Olexandr Burmagin referred to best international practices on development of specific laws countering disinformation.

Roman Holovenko spoke about the influence of technical progress (e.g. satellite equipment) on the problem of the spread of disinformation and the emotional pressure on people who produce news. Holovenko said that continuing dialog about the limitation of sharing harmful information is needed with world-wide platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. He concluded that the law should be developed to counter disinformation.

Anna Lytvyshchenko expressed her hope that the law “On Media” will become an instrument in decreasing the volume of disinformation. She called for improvements of this law before Parliament considers it.

Igor Rozkladay delivered his view that citizens are inclined to disinformation for the following reasons: 1) faith (in something negative because of a negative experience with e.g. the medical or some other sectors); 2) historical heritage of living in empires (e.g. Austro-Hungarian, Russian, etc.); and 3) mistrust in authorities. Rozkladay discussed the necessity for a complex approach towards the disinformation issue, and that includes improvements in legislation.

Alyona Romaniuk talked about the need for a one-voice policy of authorities in terms of countering disinformation. According to Romaniuk, cultivation of critical thinking is a long-term process, but there is a strong need for it. She mentioned that legislation should be involved in anti-disinformation efforts in cases where malign information campaigns are applied by the aggressor state (Russia).

More on the website of the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law in Ukrainian.