In election campaigns, when the phenomenon of fake news expands, it is important that the people do not immediately believe the statements made by politicians and try to see if the political group that tries to come to power is interested in the real problems of the people and does not invent pseudo-problems. “If we consider things from this perspective, our choice will definitely be conscious and correct. We cannot continue to promote politicians who resort to fake news and manipulate public opinion,” Petru Macovei, executive director of the Association of Independent Press (API), said in IPN’s debate “Debunking of false electoral messages and counteracting of speech inciting division”.
According to Petru Macovei, the goal of politicians, especially in an electoral campaign, is to attract more supporters and it does not matter for them if they do it by addressing the problems and providing solutions to them or by inventing pseudo-problems and pseudo-solutions to them. “Many parties focus on this in the election campaign”.
The API executive director noted the parties have advisers on communication and bank a lot on the assistance of these, but the communicators do nothing but gain some money based on the parties’ wish to win the elections. That’s why those messages that exploit the people’s feelings, phobias and fears are imbedded.
According to Petru Macovei, the set of instruments for counteracting these messages is rather reduced namely because the politicians are the final beneficiaries of the phenomenon. As long as there is an irresponsible political class, this does not think about the public interest, but thinks how to strengthen the resilience capacity, which is the method by which the people can counteract this phenomenon. That’s why everyone should bank on their critical thinking.
“We should learn to differentiate between real information and potentially false information. In particular, there are fact-checking platforms. The people should inform themselves from several sources, verify the information and not believe everything they are told. They should compile a list of reliable media outlets they can use to inform themselves, but they should be attentive here as there are media sources that overnight can become politically biased owing to financial or other conditions,” said Petru Macovei, noting the state cannot help here as there are no legal mechanisms for punishing those that distribute fake news.
The public debate “Debunking of false electoral messages and counteracting of speech inciting division” is the 186th installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.