site.btaUPDATED Media, Analysts and Officials Discuss Pluralism, Disinformation in Times of War
Media people, analysts and officials are discussing here Tuesday pluralism and disinformation in times of war. The discussion is organized by Council for Electronic Media (CEM) and the topics include ways for media regulation to counter disinformation and the social and political consequences of disinformation.
Among the participants are political analyst Parvan Simeonov of Gallup International, outgoing e-Government Minister Bozhidar Bozhanov, media expert Nelly Ognyanova, Georgi Lozanov, head of the LIK Department with the Bulgarian News Agency and journalists of bTV, the Bulgarian National Television, OFFNews.bg, the Association of European Journalists and Agence France- Presse.
Here is what some of them said.
Minister Bozhidar Bozhanov: The social media should counter coordinated attempts at disinformation. The European Union should direct its regulatory efforts in this area. Social media should be held responsible for the most harmful and illegal content. Bozhanov recommends tighter control over content, troll factories, and the instruments that are used for the distribution of this [dis]information.
Advertising is an important element of disinformation. In 2019, Google put in place tighter controls and it is much harder to monetize through Google. However, there are other platforms which have weaker controls and they monetize fake information through advertising platforms.
Parvan Simeonov: Bulgarians are among the greatest Europhiles in the European Union but also among the greatest Russophiles. Within the context of the Russian invasion, the influence of fake news in Bulgaria is growing and Bulgarians are tangibly skeptical about the media coverage of the war.
People are showing their mistrust in the power holders. There is a very clear age gap. Older people are much less likely to be mistrustful. They tend to see television as a reliable source of information, unlike the young who trust the social media and the Internet.
Georgi Lozanov: Troll factories, trolls and paid mouthpieces should be persecuted from the point of view that their sources of financing are nontransparent. The two largest transformation processes of propaganda in recent years are associated with the two crises: the COVID pandemic and the war between Russia and Ukraine. The crises evoke collective emotions and mainly fear. Both the propaganda and the post truth rule collective emotions. CEM should use its right to opinion in connection with the fight against disinformation. Regulations should be based on EU recommendations. There is no recipe but there have been many oversights by CEM over the past years and this is one of the reasons that Bulgaria is losing the hybrid warfare.
Prof. Nelly Ognyanova: Countering disinformation is hard because it involves intervention but also protection of the freedom of speech which means non-intervention. The world is looking for a solution but there still isn't one on a global level. The European Union is thought to have a slight edge because the steps it is planning are most widely accepted.
Vessislava Antonova of the Journalism Ethics Commission: Information entrepreneurs begin to prevail over quality journalism and this is a dangerous phenomenon. There are many people who cover developments in Ukraine competently and incompetently, reflecting on people’s tragedy.
Dessislava Rizova of bTV: In a war situation like the one in Ukraine, journalists can tell only what they see with their own eyes. In Ukraine you have no access to the Russian point of view. To go to Donbas is impossible. We tried to go there a year and a half ago. We made efforts to show every point of view but for objective reasons we could not.
Nikolay Doinov of NOVA TV: The Bulgarian audience receives coverage of the war in Ukraine mainly from Reuters, BBC and CNN. What you receive from the field is just a speck and any claims to comprehensiveness are unserious. There is no way out of this except to film, describe and tell what you see with your own eyes.
Maria Cheresheva of the Association of European Journalists: The influence of social media calls for fact-checking platforms. Certain piece of information may have reached one million users without being created by professionals.