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Jan 03 2017

Populism and ‘Fake’ News

At Tech Dirt today, Mike Masnick has a story up about the wave of Government proposals to censor news they news they don’t like.

In this case the Government is Italian and Masnick cites this piece from Politico

Italy joins calls for fake news crackdown
By Zoya Sheftalovich, Politico
12/30/16, 7:13 AM CET

“Post-truth in politics is one of the drivers of populism and it is one of the threats to our democracies,” Pitruzzella (Italy’s antitrust chief) said. “We have reached a fork in the road: we have to choose whether to leave the internet like it is, the wild west, or whether it needs rules that appreciate the way communication has changed. I think we need to set those rules and this is the role of the public sector.”

Pitruzzella argued tackling fake news should not be left up to social media companies, but instead be tackled by the state through independent authorities with the power to remove fake news and impose fines, coordinated by Brussels, similar to the way the EU regulates competition.

The antitrust chief said platforms “are doing their part” by modifying algorithms to reduce the spread of false news, “But it is not the job of a private entity to control information. This is historically the job of public powers. They have to guarantee that information is correct. We cannot delegate this completely.”

“But it is not the job of a private entity to control information. This is historically the job of public powers. They have to guarantee that information is correct. We cannot delegate this completely.”?

Well, it’s hard to get a clearer call for Government Censorship than that. Hmm… who are those “historical” public powers? Nazi Germany, East Germany, Fascist Italy, the USSR, North Korea, China to name a few. Dictatorships and Oligarchies the lot.

Now, what problem are we supposed to have that requires these Draconian Dictatorial, Anti-Democratic powers? Oh, that’s right- Populism!

The thing about “Populism” is that it’s, well, err… Popular. I mean you can hardly call it a threat to Democracy except by using some kind of NewSpeak definition. What Pitruzzella means instead is that the Neo Liberal Consensus has lost all credibility after 40 odd years of abject failure and proven lies. Talk about ‘Fake’ News, what do you think the Legacy Media Stenographers of Government Propaganda are pushing 24/7? The Ruling Class and their Media Lackys are disappointed that they no longer control the channels of Propaganda and are afraid of a Democratic Revolt which threatens their elite status.

As they should be. People are not buying their bullshit anymore. The dog won’t eat the dog food. Their attempts at repression of facts that make them look petty, stupid, and venal will have exactly the same effect as the measures the Soviet Government took during the 70s and 80s. The rot of corruption was impossible to ignore. The Communist System was a a bubble waiting to be popped, just like Neo Liberalism is now.

From Mike Masnick-

Any time you hear of a plan for the government to be able to remove news stories or impose fines for reporting, you should get very, very worried. That is a recipe for censorship. Yes, blatantly made-up stories are a problem — but not one that should be dealt with by expanding the tools of censorship in a way that will be abused. We need to teach better media literacy and get more people to understand how to read critically and to do research. Putting tools to censor and fine journalists in the hands of government will inevitably lead to that power being abused. Someone will report on something that makes a politician look bad, and suddenly it will be declared “fake news.” We’re seeing that happen already — even without the threat of fines and censorship.

This focus on “fake news” is becoming increasingly dangerous and many of the people screaming loudest about it — including lots of journalists — don’t seem to realize where it will end. You can worry about truly made-up stories all you want, but if you think the solution to it is to increase the powers to censor and stifle and chill expression, you’re not going to be happy with how it boomerangs back on legitimate expression.

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