Ahead of International Democracy Day, DRI and Heinrich-Böll-Foundation (HBS) organised on 13 September in Berlin a discussion with prominent Ukrainian and international experts, who fight at the forefront against fake news and contribute to reform Ukraine.
Increased media literacy was identified as one of the main measures to prevent disinformation, according to the speakers of the first panel. The second panel focused on the way forward for Ukrainian civil society. “Are self-organised activities of civil society enough to achieve reforms?” – was the main question of the debate.
There is little doubt that fake news can represent a threat to the national security of Ukraine and official state bodies are facing a challenging task of countering propaganda without limiting the freedom of speech – stated Dmytro Zolotukhin, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine. Other panellists criticised bans of certain journalists from entering Ukraine. “Independent journalistic activities should be separated from cases of spread of disinformation and hate speech” – argued Yevhen Fedchenko, founder of Stopfake.org.
While restrictive measures remain in the hands of the state structures, such initiatives as stopfake.org are offering tools and information for increasing media literacy and help an audience to better identify what is fake. Therefore, the journalistic community could help in upholding standards of journalism and reveal propagandist efforts. “In Ukraine, this problem is fixed.” – argued Popova, senior communication expert at NGO “Information Security”, arguing that Ukrainians have become much more aware when confronted with news and less likely to believe propaganda. Other speakers agreed on the progress made, but highlighted that the disinformation campaigns not over and there is a lot to be done still.