Speakers at a seminar on Tuesday stressed the need for formal legal measures, civil society actions, corporate commitments and social and educational strategies to combat fake news.
Since fake news is spreading through the platforms of big tech companies, the tech giants have the responsibility to prevent fake news, they said.
In the first session of the seminar, senior journalist Saleem Samad presented a paper entitled “Fake News: A Threat to Democracy in SAARC and BRICS Countries”.
He pointed out in his presentation that collective efforts of South Asian and BRICS are apparently absent except for canned rhetoric by regional leaders. His paper recommended more emphasis on social and educational strategies to combat fake news.
Arefin Mizan, research consultant at ELCOP, also presented a paper titled ‘Fake News: A Threat to Democracy in Bangladesh’ at the seminar.
He discussed how fake news is a threat to democracy in Bangladesh, by decreasing confidence in democratic processes and institutions, citing recent cases and data.
The paper concluded with a call to Bangladeshis to teach others about fake news and its dangers, with the slogan ‘Each 1, teach 10.’
Dr Barakat said the focus should be on identifying what are the determinants of fake news or the determinants of demand of fake news. He stated that addressing fake news is challenging. In his opinion, formal legal measures, corporate commitments, and civil society actions are needed to combat fake news.
Dr Arghya commented that fake news is spreading through the platforms of big tech companies, the tech giants have the responsibility to prevent fake news.
In the second session, Aroup Raton Shaha, research consultant at ELCOP, presented a paper titled ‘Fake News: A Threat to Human Rights in SAARC and BRICS Countries’.
In the paper, Shaha depicted different international incidents of fake news that has affected human rights in different parts of the world.
In the latter part of the second session, Md Johir Uddin Shohag, research consultant at ELCOP, presented a paper styled “Fake News: A Threat to Human Rights in Bangladesh”.
He pointed out that the rise of the influence of tech companies and populism help fake news spread faster and consequently, people might get agitated and might act irrationally and attack minorities in response to, for example, fabricated Facebook posts defaming the religion of the majority by any member of such minorities.
The paper illustrated the disastrous impact of fake news on human rights in Bangladesh. Johir ended his presentation by calling for international cooperation to combat fake news.
Professor Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, Professor Dr Yubaraj Sangroula from Nepal, Jayanta Roy Chowdhury from India, Dr Lopamudra Maitra Bajpai from India, and Vasily Pushkov from Russia spoke as designated discussants of the session.
Dr Yubaraj, former Attorney General for Nepal, said that the accountability and effective functionality of democratic institutions are essential to prevent fake news.
Scholars, journalists, diplomats, civil society representatives, bureaucrats, NGO and INGO officials, UN officials, and human rights activists participated in the open discussion session.
The day-long event concluded with the pledge to combat fake news.