COMECE takes a stand on “Fake News”
In continuity with Pope Francis’ recent condemnation of fake news as a tool to isolate, divide, and oppose people, and ultimately to hinder dialogue, COMECE participated to the Public consultation on fake news and online disinformation carried out by the European Commission with the aim of developing an effective strategy tackling the phenomenon.
"Spreading fake news – the Pope said during the World Communications Day 2018 - can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions and serve economic interests, […] turning people into unwilling accomplices in spreading biased and baseless ideas” that obstruct a constructive dialogue.
COMECE suggested to ground the next EU strategy against fake news on two main pillars: respect for fundamental rights and strengthening education and media literacy.
Targeting Fake News must not jeopardise the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. COMECE rejects solutions that could have a negative impact affecting the enjoyment of fundamental rights: the fight against fake news shall not limit, but promote the diversity necessary to the healthy functioning of a democratic society.
According to COMECE excessively wide definitions of fake news might lead public authorities to have dangerously high degrees of interference on information, driving them to steer public opinion/debates.
The formation of citizens is crucial and education to the use of media is essential. Children are the adult citizens/readers/users of tomorrow and deserve particular attention. Education should include general culture and make citizens aware of diversity and help them to build a critical spirit, fostering a culture of dialogue and openness to different ideas.