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During the discussion, the panelists engaged in a discussion on how to tackle the 'infodemia', how to regulate social media and other topics regarding disinformation and social media.
In 2016 Facebook was too slow to recognize how bad actors were abusing the platforms, said Aura Salla, the Head of EU Affairs at Facebook. However, she said that Facebook is a different company now because they have worked on neutralizing risks on their platforms. Facebook is using a strategy called “remove, reduce, and inform” to manage problematic content across the platform. However, a clear regulatory framework from democratically elected decision makers is needed at the EU level, emphasized A. Salla.
Lithuanian MEP Rasa Juknevičienė said that the European Parliament is working to tackle the problem of disinformation. As an example, she mentioned the Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation, of whom she also is a member. Juknevičienė also stressed the importance of social platforms as an expression of free speech in Belarus and other autocratic countries.
Communication Expert Viktor Denisenko noted that Kremlin propaganda is a big issue for Lithuania. There have been multiple proposals on how to tackle this issue and as a successful example, he used the Lithuanian online 'elves', which take on fake news and Russian trolls. He supports the idea of media education in schools and universities as a tool to tackle the spread of false information in social media.
Dr. Susanne Spahn noted that Russia has been actively spreading disinformation about Covid. She also said that Russia is investing a lot of money in state-controlled media outlets, which means that media and information policy is a high priority for Russia. Russia's disinformation goals in Germany aim to promote Russian narratives, for example depicting Ukraine as a fascist regime, noted Dr. Spahn.
We would like to thank our partners Eastern Europe Studies Centre and the panelists for engaging in a discussion about this important topic.