Social networking sites pose now biggest disinformation threat, opinions

The MPs of the ruling party, together with representatives of civil society, intend to design a bill to combat disinformation and to regulate the online sphere. Both MPs and representatives of NGOs said the document should ensure a balance between the securing of the information space and the freedom of expression, IPN reports.

Given the war in Ukraine and the avalanche of disinformation in Moldova’s information space, the government will propose a bill whose goal is to stop the spread of fake news and propaganda.

“The bill will be discussed and improved. Its goal is to ensure the information security of the state. It is aimed at preventing and combating disinformation in terms of strategic communication and refers to the online sphere, which is harder to be regulated, by maintaining the freedom of expression,” PAS MP Liliana Nicolăescu-Onofrei stated in the program “Reflection Points” on Vocea Basarabiei station.

Representatives of civil society said only the dissemination of fake news that affect state security should be banned and penalized. The online sphere is much ahead of the traditional press in terms of disinformation and the regulation of this sphere should not encroach on the basic human rights.

“If we look at the Public Opinion Barometer, we see incredible data showing that one third of the citizens of this country find a justification for Russia’s war against Ukraine and for the fact that Russia kills civilians. These data are a clear effect of propaganda and it does not go to the media only. The people long ago stopped informing themselves from the traditional media. At present, the social networking sites pose the biggest disinformation threat, including the Telegram channels and other platforms through which disinformation is spread. My conviction is that only fake news that can lead to social destabilization or affect state security should be penalized,” said the executive director of the Association of Independent Press Petru Macovei.

“Online disinformation has the biggest impact now. The online platforms gained a lot of ground. We have experience at international level when online platforms decisively influenced the election outcome. The online platforms are not regulated somehow, but we must be attentive not to cross the red lines when disinformation is be counteracted and when it goes to the freedom of expression and the human rights. The instruments need to be thought out very well so that we do not reach another extreme,” said IPRE expert Adrian Ermurachi.

The last Public Opinion Barometer presented by the Institute for Public Policy shows that 32% of the respondents justify Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, saying the Russian army “defend Donbas and Luhansk regions in Ukraine”. 38.3% of those polled said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “unjustified and unprovoked”. The poll was carried out by CBS Research during October 29 – November 10, 2022 and covered a sample of 1,132 persons older than 18. The margin of sampling error is 3%.

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