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Italian freedom of the press jeopardised by latest Grillo absurdity

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Italian freedom of the press jeopardised by latest Grillo absurdity

Adding insult to injury, Grillo closed his statement by saying that this system would help Italy raise up from its 77th place in Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index. The followers of Grillo's Five Star Movement, which is eurosceptic and mostly run with a strong top-down approach, reacted with enthusiasm when their guru claimed that professional journalists are the real manufacturers of fake news, and should be sanctioned by the public.  
 
At the end of November a Buzzfeed analysis unveiled that the authoritarian leaders of the movement, which is defined as the most popular political party in the country, "have built a sprawling network of websites and social media accounts that are spreading fake news”. Profitable sites Tse Tse and La Cosa regularly publish fake stories that enjoy overwhelming engagement thanks to cross-publishing ensured by the party’s official channels and Facebook page, which counts more followers than those of Italy’s more authoritative newspapers. Published “news” include, for example "claims that the US is secretly funding traffickers bringing migrants from North Africa to Italy, and that Barack Obama wants to topple the Syrian regime to create instability across the region so China cannot get access to its oil”, along with enthusiastic Brexit and Trump support.
 
At the end of December Italy’s antitrust chief Giovanni Petruzzella suggested that the European Union put in place a system of independent authorities which would label fake news and oversee fines, much like it happens in antitrust matters, the Financial Times reports. His reasoning is that the regulation of false information should be managed by the states rather than being outsourced to social media companies. 
 
While Petruzzella’s idea surely makes press freedom lovers cringe, Grillo’s proposal sounds terrifying. 
 
After labelling the concerns over fake news as a “new inquisition” aimed at “stopping the free internet”, the former comedian insisted that newspapers and TV are knowingly spreading false information. In a posting in his hugely popular blog he added that "Newspapers and TV are the prime fabricators of fake news ... with the purpose of helping those in power to maintain their position”.
 
(Image source)

Author

Elena Perotti's picture

Elena Perotti

Date

2017-01-04 14:16

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