Countries at United Nations commit to fighting fake news

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – Twenty countries, including France, Britain and India, signed an agreement at the United Nations on Thursday (Sept 26) that aims to stop the spread of fake news online.

The signatories, which also included South Africa and Canada, committed to promoting “independently reported, diverse and reliable” information on the internet, under an accord initiated by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a press freedom watchdog.

“The emergence of a global digital space is shaking up the world of information, bringing with it progress as well as risks,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

He added on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York that misinformation online, especially during election campaigns, “undermined trust in democratic institutions”.

The agreement underlines the responsibility of internet providers to promote trustworthy content and pluralism to escape the current “information chaos,” RSF said in a statement.

Last week, Twitter shut down thousands of accounts worldwide for spreading misinformation, including some artificially amplifying pro-Saudi messaging as part of a regional propaganda war.

Fake accounts from China seeking to sow discord among protesters in Hong Kong were also found.

Last month, Facebook removed fake accounts in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE for posting misinformation as social media giants crack down on manipulation, often by state-controlled entities disguising their identities.

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