Fighting fake news? Today it is possible! Ask to Finland

How many times do we meet news on Internet which firstly seems believable but later it reveals itself totally false? The risk of diverted and wrong information for Internet sailors is increasingly high. To avoid this trap, we need to inform about source reliability and worldwide citizens must develop a critical mindset about what is published on Internet. It takes all on the web, from WhatsApp chains to web messages which reward you as lucky winner of an 6s Iphone. But in addition to these simple fake news, there are more difficult other one to identify and for which we need a specific knowledge about the subject matter. After Cambridge Analytica case, with the disclosure of personal data, and through the stormy atmosphere developed into worldwide web after Russiagate, caution is a must.

In this climate of confusion, created in the worldwide network, Finland has defined a national strategy to defeat fake news, thus trying to limit the media impact created by themselves. So, the Scandinavian Country launched an educative and innovative project in 2016, which is winning the battle for the truth of information against fake news. Finland is a Country long time under the threat of Russia territorial claims, which has intesify cyber attacks against the West during the last years. The detected approach sees as key point the refurm of the educational field, with the aim to support the spread of the critical thinking between young people. The Finnish theory is based on the belief that fake news are not only a government problem, but they are an enemy we need to defend ourselves from in order to allow democracy to be able to continue to survive. This deep rooted conviction must be spread between people and  cultivated from an early age, starting from kindergartens, where children are educated to feel like digital detective. They, as small Conan Edogawa or Sherlock Holmes, start to probe web to the research of alleged fake news. Through the analysis of the main social networks, they study the emotional reaction emerged by true or fake news running on the Internet. This continuous monitoring activities allow to Finnish new generations to consciously grow and with a strong civic engagement.

The Finnish educational system reached important results which allowed Finnish society to ranks in second place, at an European level, regarding the freedom of expression and in first place as regards the total happiness index. It is also excellent the position achieved regarding the transparency and the social justice, where it respectively occupies the third and fourth position. Moreover, the Finnish population has a solid community of readers, which makes the Finnish Country the first with regard to the score of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in connection with the lecture ability. The Finns put a strong confidence on the press and the pubblic service broadcasting; their critical ability to read newspapers, in addition to being a innate gift, is linked to the need to not have to verify the veracity of news directly communicated by the press and government channels (these usually much authoritative and reliable).

But the Finnish system has a clear limit that several times emerged during various processes held in the digital field at Helsinki Constitutional Court: the incapacity to monitoring the spread of troll account on Youtube, Facebook and Google. Despite the structural modifications made in order to garantee a major transparency, Finns seem reluctant, because of Russian constant interference, to accept forms of improvement of such platforms. Therefore, the Scandinavian State decided to use the iron fist, condemning in an exemplary manner the presumed responsible for disinformation campaigns, also defining an important precedent for the European Union. Finland is the first European Country to put legal basis for the recognition and condemnation of hate speeches circulating on Internet, masked by the fake freedom of expression.

The successes achieved by the Finnish educational system have aroused the attention of other States engrossed in face the same disinformation campaigns. In Germany, German platforms have to delete hate comments considered illegal and in France this law forbids the spread of fake news (on the web) during election campaigns.

Finland could launch a media campaign "Finland has the world's best election - think about why", which highlights how being prepared is a fundamental prerequisite for citizens, who can contribute actively to the democratic defence of the Country. The Finnish example gives to the other States a way out from fake news, whose overcoming can be make it possible only by the critical people thinking. This concept also applies to our Millenials, too much busy counting likes on their posts.

By Domenico Barbato

Translated by Giorgia Melis

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Sections Human Rights International Security


Fake News information Finland

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