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26 Apr, 2017 01:15

UN must lead battle against ‘pandemic’ of fake news & disinformation – Russian FM spokeswoman

The UN should create a set of international rules to help stop the pandemic of fake news and Cold war-style disinformation, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a session of the UN Committee on Information in New York.

“Our delegation proposes the UN to define a strategy for battling fake news and disinformation. Russia will be ready to fully support this initiative which is extremely important for developing a healthy environment for news reporting,” Zakharova said at the 39th Session of the COI on Tuesday.

The “mass production” of fake news is the result of a significant decrease in journalists’ professional standards that is taking place against a backdrop of “unjustified legislative and functional” limits being imposed on media outlets, the foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

Zakharova noted that “freedom of speech, impartiality, and objectivity are sacrificed to political conditions, and the global information sphere is degrading and disintegrating into politically biased fragments.”

The media world is currently facing a crisis full of “an unprecedented number of problems” and “intense challenges,” caused by some states resorting to information wars belonging to the Cold War era.

“Such misinformation is quite comparable to the focused environment with the virus epidemic in terms of the degree of damage,” she said. “For a systemic fight against a transborder pandemic, we need a strategy to deal with this threat on a multinational level.”

Zakharova added that impunity for crimes against journalists “remains a sad reality in a number of countries living in peace as well as countries that are conflict zones.”

The proposal came amid repeated but groundless accusations that Russia has been spreading fake news while meddling in the elections in the US as well as in France.

In March, French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s team accused RT and Sputnik of intentionally spreading false information in an attempt to influence the election. Macron’s aides, however, failed to provide any substantial proof for the allegations.

Former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also made similar baseless claims while she was desperately striving to get into the White House.

“It looks like Macron wants to follow the steps of Hillary Clinton. A very dubious path,” Zakharova said back in March.

In her speech, Zakharova also urged the UN to allocate adequate resources to produce and promote Russian-language materials, focusing on social media content and ensuring high-quality materials.

Zakharova also called for the revival of the news center's daily Russian radio broadcasts which for some reason were put on hold since the start of 2017. According to the rules, the broadcast can be cancelled only following a special decision of the General Assembly Committee on Information, but no such decision has been made.