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Fake News and Democracy

15 August 2017

It’s a pest indeed, the sudden rise of so-called fake news distributed via the internet and social media channels trying to influence public opinion. Authorities are panicking and their reactions may even prove dangerous to our societies, more dangerous than the fake news themselves.

Passing legislation making platforms block and/or erase fake news and their authors is censorship that opposes the right of free speech! This right is essential to democratic societies granting to express your opinions and beliefs, even it is mere nonsense. There are other and better ways to tackle the problem.

Yes, in digital environments also nonsense spreads rapidly. On the other hand, digital environments also react to nonsense at the same speed. The impact of fake news is limited since almost immediately another wave of corrections will be out. The problem is only for those serious media adopting too fast and un-reflected to something that appears to be spectacular. For a big newspaper to correct a negative image deriving from being too un-reflected is painful. However, there is also a learning curve. By now, everybody knows double checking is essential. More so: Ethical standards like the ones laid down in the DC Codex on “Public Communications and Trust” are becoming essential.

The problem is with those who belief in fake news. They can’t be influenced by regular media channels. However, such filter bubbles are not a new phenomenon. It was hidden before social media allowed everybody to become a global publisher for his own interests, hidden for our societies that now recognize the problem at last, and hidden for “conspiracy activists” who now found a loud and global voice.

The good thing is, we cannot ignore the problem any longer. That’s the first step to finding solutions!

This cannot be censorship that would be hiding the problem again!

 


It Only Just Began!

19 July 2017

Discomfort of Europe with its first climax in Brexit, the stunning victory of Donald Trump in the US elections, the ongoing and increasing tensions in the Middle East: The recollection of intellectual worlds long believed overcome has many reasons. However, they can all be summarized by the term globalization with digitalization being a major driver of it, shaking up our businesses and societies.

Real-time communication as with social networks like Facebook creates the feeling of being culturally attacked also in the world’s most remote areas. For sure, this is one of the main reasons why fundamental religious groups are becoming so popular.

Politics has no answers yet! Some don’t know, some don’t believe and others don’t care, driven by their own agenda of “maximizing” efficiency” frustrating the man in the street who doesn’t understand the logic behind it and who feels left alone.  

The massive increase of the number of non-voters in democratic societies has been an early warning. Politics didn’t know how to react. Indeed, we are walking on “terra incognita” when we are looking at the social impact. Tools are presented everywhere and contradicting.  More dangerous, however, is the widespread notion of continuing as before. “Never change a running system” has been true some years ago – today it means disaster.

More so since the end of these digitally caused changes is not yet in sight. Let’s look at robotics and artificial intelligence.  A huge part of the labor still done by humans will decline rapidly and be done by a machine, including many white-collar jobs. It will also have an impact on Africa – possibly contradicting international initiatives to strengthen the continent’s countries and their people.

However, there is no reason to be overly pessimistic.  But we must be prepared for a steep – and sometimes painful learning curve towards a “Digital World Order”.


CHANGE NOW!

14 June 2017

"Change Now”! That’s not an invitation, that is the description of an on-going process, around the globe, across all industries and more so all societies! The result is increasing uncertainty across humanity and a growing desire to return to the “good old days”!
Stop dreaming: They’ll never come back! And that’s what this column is all about: How to tackle this continuous pressure for change. In many cases change is technology driven, a digital revolution.

I’m coming from the media industry. If you look at it, media, no matter if you refer to it as audio (or music), filmed or written entertainment and even the news - if you break it down it's all “content”. And content is nothing but data and that's the reason why media industries were the first ones to be disrupted by digitalization. Has the industry learned its lesson? In many cases no, for a simple reason, change is still ongoing!

However, media has a much wider responsibility. It must help the individual to adapt to the new world, both by creating comfort zones through its entertainment offers and by explaining the new world or to help to discuss it! As a matter of fact, that’s what the DC Global Media Forum could become, a platform for reflection of all these aspects and to provide some orientation. That’s why I’m happy about the invitation to write this regular column for Diplomatic Society!

Let’s also look at the other side of the digital revolution. That’s “Innovation”. And that's where Africa as a continent of high potential comes in. Only now, the world has started to become aware of its wealth. For example: already now Africa is a pioneer in mobile (micro) payments and the world is beginning to learn from it. Well, let’s not ignore the problems, however, that’s very promising!

Let’s kick off a debate about change, about opportunities… I’m looking forward to it!

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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July 2017 Edition

 
 
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