Paga Hill iconic human rights documentary banned from PNG festival

Report by Dr David Robie – Café Pacific.

Activist lawyer Jose Moses as he appears in a Frontline Insight item about the Paga Hill struggle for justice
in Papua New Guinea. Video: Reuters Foundation

By Pacific Media Watch

An internationally acclaimed investigative documentary about Paga Hill community’s fight for justice from the illegal eviction and demolition of their homes in Papua New Guinea’s capital of Port Moresby has been banned from screening today at the PNG Human Rights Festival.

“The ban highlights the lingering limits on free speech in our country and the continued attempts to censor our story of resistance against gross human rights violations,” claimed Paga Hill community leader and lawyer Joe Moses, the main character in The Opposition film who had to seek exile in the United Kingdom after fighting for his community’s rights.

“This censorship comes as a deep disappointment for my community who have suffered greatly over the past six years.”

The Opposition tells the David-and-Goliath battles of a community evicted, displaced, abandoned – their homes completely demolished at the hands of two Australian-run companies, Curtain Brothers and Paga Hill Development Company, and the PNG state.

What was once home to 3000 people of up to four generations, Paga Hill is now part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit “AELM Precinct” which will take place this November.

The PNG Human Rights Film Festival.
Image: Programme screenshot

Moses said: “We appreciate the PNG Human Rights Film Festival for choosing to screen The Opposition film at their Madang and Port Moresby screenings.

“It is shameful that our government continues to limit free speech and put such pressure on our country’s only annual arts and human rights event. How does this make us look to the world leaders who will be coming here for the APEC meeting in November?”

‘Speak up today’
Under the theme “Tokautnau long senisim tumora” (Speak up today to change tomorrow) the mission of the PNG Human Rights Film Festival includes: “We are all born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

The international and local human rights films screened “promote increased respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights in Papua New Guinea”.

Paga Hill youth leader Allan Mogerema, who also features in the film said: “The right to freedom of speech and freedom of press is provided for under Section 46 of the PNG Constitution. By banning our story, the PNG government is in breach of our Constitution and our rights as Papua New Guinean citizens.”

The Opposition trailer.

As a human rights defender, Mogerema has been invited to the 2018 Annual Human Rights and People’s Diplomacy Training Programme for Human Rights Defenders from the Asia-Pacific Region and Indigenous Australia organised by the Diplomacy Training Programme (DTP) and the Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP) to share his story of the illegal land grab, eviction and demolition of his community.

“The film has already been screened in settlements across PNG and at the Human Rights Film Festival’s Madang screenings. No matter how hard they try to censor us, our story continues to live, and our fight for justice continues to thrive,” added Mogerema.

“No matter how long it takes, our community will get justice.”

Dame Carol Kidu is also featured in The Opposition film. Initially an advocate for the Paga Hill community, Dame Carol turned her back on them by setting up a consultancy to be hired by the Paga Hill Development Corporation, on a contract of $178,000 for three months’ work.

In 2017, she launched a legal action in the Supreme Court of NSW to censor the film. In June that year, the court ruled against Dame Carol’s application.

#Justice4Paga

Frontline Insight: The Paga Hill struggle. Video: Reuters Foundation

This article was first published on Café Pacific.

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific Island leaders tightening the screws on press freedom, dissent

ANALYSIS: The three-hour “detention” of television New Zealand Pacific affairs reporter Barbara Dreaver for “breaking protocols” over interviewing refugees on Nauru. But Josef Benedict reports this is just part of the dismal media freedom scene in the Pacific.

At this week’s gathering of key Pacific Island leaders on the Micronesian island of Nauru, conspicuously missing were journalists from Australia’s public broadcaster.

This was because the South Pacific’s smallest nation has refused visas to journalists from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to enable them to attend and cover the four-day Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit.

And one of the Pacific’s most experienced journalists, Television New Zealand’s Barbara Dreaver was detained for more than three hours yesterday after interviewing refugees from the notorious Australian-established detention centres on the island. The Nauru government claims she was not “detained”, merely “questioned’.

READ MORE: Self-immolation, hunger strikes and suicide: Children on Nauru want to die

The Nauru government’s ban on the ABC, it says, is in retaliation for the news organisation’s “blatant interference in Nauru’s domestic politics prior to the 2016 elections, harassment of and lack of respect towards our President and… continued biased and false reporting about our country.”

But some say ABC’s criticism of Nauru’s policies on notorious Australian-run refugee detention centre on the island – plagued by widespread reports of physical, psychological and sexual abuse, with at least five suicide deaths to date – may have more to do with it.

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Those controversial camps are not on the agenda and not likely to be a subject of much discussion within the forum which ended today.

And neither is the issue of free speech and media freedom, since efforts to repress critical reporting has become increasingly common among Pacific governments.

Climate change
It is not only climate change and rising sea levels that threaten the lives and wellbeing of Pacific Islanders. Rising levels of official intolerance of dissent and free speech across the region pose a threat to the wellbeing of their democracies.

Indeed, CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society across the globe, has found that these violations of freedom of expression appear to be systemic in the region.

In Fiji, attempts by the government to intimidate and silence free speech is creating a chilling effect ahead of upcoming national elections and before the date has even been set.

In February, Island Business magazine’s editor and two of its journalists were questioned under the Public Order Act over articles on the firing of a magistrate who had presided over a union dispute.

The 2016 sedition charges against The Fiji Times – widely regarded as the country’s last independent news outlet – saw its publisher, editor-in-chief and two others hauled through the courts over a reader’s letter to the editor that allegedly contained controversial views about Muslims.

Human rights groups believe the charges were politically motivated. The state has filed an appeal against their acquittal.

Journalists in Papua New Guinea often work in fear and many believe media freedom has been eroded. In February this year, PNG Post Courier reporter, Franky Kapin, was attacked and assaulted by staff from the Morobe Province Governor’s office for alleged biased reporting.

Journalists threatened
Journalists continue to be threatened and barred from covering the ongoing crisis at the Australian refugee detention center on Manus Island (after its closure) in the country’s north.

Senior Papua New Guinean journalist Titi Gabi says that increasing outside interference of the editorial process and the bribing and threatening of journalists has led to media freedom no longer being enjoyed in the country.

After a passenger ferry sank in Kiribati in February, leaving 93 people dead, authorities barred foreign journalists from entering the country to report on the disaster.

Meanwhile, the government of Samoa was criticised by a media freedom lobby group earlier this year for seeking to repress freedom of expression by reintroducing legislation on criminal libel without proper public consultation

Civil society groups in the regional power of Australia are extremely concerned about the impact that changes to security laws will have on fundamental freedoms. The National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 and the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017 were met with a storm of protest from media outlets and civil society organisations.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights has criticised the legislation, warning that the measures will have a “severely chilling effect upon academic research, free speech, and particularly constitutionally-protected free political speech”.

According to Amnesty International Australia, the draconian laws will make it a crime for charities to expose human rights violations, and to communicate with the United Nations about those violations.

Stifled free speech
So, why are governments in the region working to increasingly stifle free speech?

For one, they are coming under growing public scrutiny, led by journalists and civil society using social media, for abuse of power, lack of transparency and corruption at various government levels.

News stories exposing official human rights violations have received global attention, thanks to the efforts of international media and non-governmental organisations. Averse to the negative publicity, Pacific governments have responded with repressive action.

Also, civil society groups in the Pacific are increasingly raising not just national concerns but sensitive regional ones as well, such as rights abuses in West Papua, a region in Indonesia where there is an active pro-independence movement, and in refugee detention centres in Nauru and PNG’s Manus Island.

Asylum seekers stand behind a fence in Oscar compound at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea. This has now been closed but problems remain for the asylum seekers, “stranded’ against their will within the Manus community. Image: Eoin Blackwell/AFP/Asian Correspodent

Seeking to appease regional powerhouses Indonesia and Australia as they appeal for economic investment, governments of small island states have no qualms trying to silence those speaking out on these issues at home.

In turn, the “growing influence of China” has also been cited as a justification for Australia’s new security policies. But many believe another objective is to keep government dealings from the public.

This regional trend flies in the face of Pacific countries’ clear commitments to respect and protect freedom of expression.

Good governance
In 2000, governments signed the Biketawa Declaration committing themselves to democracy, good governance, protection of human rights and maintenance of the rule of law. At the meeting in Nauru, leaders are expected to sign a Biketawa Plus Declaration, building on the original document.

In recent years, island nations have also made commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice for all and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels contained in Goal 16. Ensuring fundamental freedoms is pivotal to meeting this goal, as well as the other 16 SDGs.

Leaders at the gathering needed to reiterate their nations’ commitment to fundamental freedoms in its communique and demonstrate it – to create an enabling environment for both the media and civil society to work without fear of criminalisation, harassment and reprisals.

Failing to do so – and the detention of Barbara Dreaver yesterday – are clear signs that the forum is willing to undermine its international obligations and its commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

Josef Benedict is a civic space research officer with global civil society alliance Civicus and a contributor to Asian Correspondent. This article is republished from Asian Correspondent with the permission of the author.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Don’t play with fire’ warning in Samoa’s social media threat

Many Samoans are angry over a threat by the prime minister earlier this year to ban the social media platform Facebook amid growing pressure by politicians and officials across the Pacific against “fundamental freedoms”. Mike Mohr reports for Asia Pacific Journalism in the second of a two-part series on online media.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Maleilegaoi has warned  that the social media site Facebook may be banned, and has told users “not to play with fire”.

But the threat earlier this year has drawn mounting criticism from Samoans online.

Public opinion online is suggesting that the Samoan government is threatening people’s right to freedom of expression and their right to free speech.

The Samoa Alliance of Media Practitioner for Development (SAMPOD) opposes any possible ban.

“The right to free expression is fundamental to a democracy like Samoa,” says SAMPOD.

SAMPOD and others who are opposed to the possible ban have cited the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the right of the people of Samoa to express their opinions without fear of repercussion from the government.

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The Facebook threat – first made in March – is in retaliation to online criticism and scrutiny of the Samoan PM and cabinet ministers by members of the public.

Discontent with officials
Facebook and other social media platforms are being used by members of the public to voice their opinions and discontent with Samoan government officials.

“So, I advise them not to play with fire. I want them to know that no matter where you hide, you will be caught,” he told the Samoa Observer in an interview attacking “faceless writers” on blogs.

The Prime Minister has rejected the opinions and views of online commentators. He has added that these individuals are offending government leaders with their accusations.

“Because it’s all based on lies, those affected are government leaders” he told the Observer.

Although the issue about the threatened ban has been quiet in past weeks, after a recent visit to London for a Commonwealth cybersecurity conference, he renewed his attack on anonymous bloggers.

However, Samoa Observer editor Mata’afa Keni Lesa asked in an editorial why was Tuilaepa so worried and why was he making himself “look like the biggest bully” on a crusade.

The editor said Tuilaepa was “thrilled to finally have learnt that it’s not just Samoa struggling with the issue of faceless writers”.

The prime minister had found that all 53 countries of the Commonwealth had been affected by social media problems ranging from “character assassinations” to many unfounded allegations.

Family insults
The threatened ban on Facebook would be not only for criticism for political decisions, but also for comments regarding family, allegations of corruption and personal insults that are aimed at cabinet members.

“The government will do what it takes to settle this matter once and for all, even if it means banning Facebook,” he told the Observer.

Tuilaepa’s concern is with online social media sites that provide a platform for personal attacks and accusations that he believes are unfounded, misleading and untrue.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa has insisted that these posts and comments had absolutely no truth in them.

Accusation of corruption and unethical relationships are the main reasons for Tuilaepa’s belief that eventually Facebook, and other social media platforms, will be banned.

Government officials are not the only targets of online posts but also their family members.

Alleged sexual relationships between family members is one of the accusation that has provoked feelings of anger by those who are accused of such acts.

He continued by adding that if any of the accusations aimed at government officials were true, they would have been published in the Observer.

The threatened ban would include blogs and other popular social sites and apps.

The Facebook ban is being delayed, according to the Samoa Observer, but it is just a matter of time before Facebook and other online social media sites would be banned.

Blogger identities
The identities of some of the anonymous bloggers are known to the Prime Minister and police investigators, according to an article by Samoa Observer.

O Le Palemia is an anonymous blogger that has been singled out for inflammatory accusations levelled against Prime Minister Tuilaepa and other government officials.

The identity of the O Le Palemia has not yet been uncovered, or has not yet been released publicly.

Tuilaepa has warned that if its behaviour continued, he would be forced to release the names of those that he believes are responsible.

O Le Palemia last month published an attack on some Samoan media, accusing them of publishing “government propaganda”.  The blog named Newsline Samoa, Talamua Media and Samoa Planet.

Website Samoa Planet, founded by Lani Wendt Young and Tuiloma Sina Retzlaff, closed down last month.

There was hesitation in revealing the identities of the online bloggers because of fears of physical attacks by those who the accusations and comments are aimed at or by relatives and supporters.

Tuilaepa is sure that once the identities are revealed the bloggers lives would be in danger because of the severity of the online posts that had provoked anger in government officials.

The Prime Minister is adamant that when information about the identities of the anonymous bloggers is released to the public, violence would ensue in the form of reprisal attacks.

O Le Palemia was shut down in February for breaching Facebook’s community standards, reported RNZ Pacific, but apparently resumed publication.

Police investigation
Tuilaepa said in June police had filed charges against the people suspected of being behind the O Le Palemia blog but he did not name them.

In its statement against the threatened ban, SAMPOD said: “We urge the government to use existing mechanisms to address issues arising from the misuse of Facebook, but humbly caution against the banning of this essential medium of information for the people of Samoa.”

Online comments by fellow Samoans refer to government leaders as “Snowflakes” – a slang term referring to individuals that are “hypersensitive to criticism”, according Wikipedia and Merriam-Webster online.

Mike Maatulimanu Mohr is a student journalist on the Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies (Journalism) reporting on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Keith Jackson: Did dumb just get dumber and Sam Basil dig a hole?

A near confrontation on the floor of Parliament on Friday, with the Papua New Guinea Opposition walking out in protest over the referral of Madang MP Bryan Kramer, to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee following a Facebook posting. Video: EMTV News

OPINION: By Keith Jackson in Noosa

Samuel H Basil, the man who might ban Papua New Guineans from Facebook, was not always such a stern opponent of the social media platform he now despises – a platform used by nearly a million of his fellow citizens.

Indeed it was only 18 months ago that Basil – who is now Communications Minister – posted on his own Facebook page: “FB users in PNG have used the medium to their advantage exposing corruption in government…. Everything is changing; people are taking their bloggers seriously and their politicians as comedians.”

Yes, bloggers serious; politicians comic.

READ MORE: Gary Juffa on the Kramer censoring – another attack on free speech

Then last week, having defected not only from his political base but seemingly from his former progressive and liberal ideas, Basil felt able to announce that Facebook could be banned for a month for some mysterious “research” – and maybe disposed of permanently, perhaps to be replaced by Basbook.

Communications Minister Sam Basil with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill – worried about the wellbeing of PNG or just politicians feelings being hurt? Image: PNG Attitude

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An immediate worldwide flambé of curiosity then thrust the story into the news stratosphere, some journalists linking it with Papua New Guinea’s APEC forum later this year. Basil seemed to back away, then push the idea forward again so by week’s end what the government intends to do was very much up in the air.

But one thing did remain constant (see more stories on PNG Attitude) – the desire of most national politicians to get rid of the dreadful FB thing that is causing them so much grief with increasingly savvy and critical voters.

Among the small group of politicians fighting to keep Facebook alive is Madang MP Bryan Kramer who was cheeky enough (in a Facebook post of course) to allude to Basil in a headline which asked, “Did dumb just get dumber?”.

Parliamentary walkout
Affecting to have been taken aback, in Parliament the majority of members voted to refer Kramer to the Privileges Committee whereupon Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch and 23 other members walked out of the chamber in protest.

The committee will decide if Kramer’s post brought Parliament into disrepute.

Opposition Madang MP Bryan Kramer … controversial statement made outside Parliament on Facebook. Image: EMTV News

However, there is something of a problem – the committee is meant to investigate breaches of parliamentary privilege and Kramer’s statement was not made in Parliament.

“I think what is frightening and what is alarming for the people of PNG is a deliberate move towards shutting down their opportunities to have access to information and to also speak freely,” Pruaitch said.

“They [politicians] are complaining about their feelings being hurt.”

Meanwhile, in far away Uganda, Parliament has just passed a new social media tax which will charge a daily fee of 200 Ugandan shillings (about K1.75) to anyone using apps Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. That’s a hefty sum in a country where the average person earns K6 a day.

But, as with Sam Basil’s ill thought through proposition for Papua New Guinea, it is unclear in Uganda how social media use will be monitored and how the money will be collected.

Digging themselves deeper holes in their desire to rein in social media seems to be a developing political trait.

This article is republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission and was originally published by Keith Jackson’s blog PNG Attitude.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Why data power of social media giants like Facebook troubles human rights

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Why data power of social media giants like Facebook troubles human rights

By Sarah Joseph in Melbourne

Facebook has had a bad few weeks. The social media giant had to apologise for failing to protect the personal data of millions of users from being accessed by data mining company Cambridge Analytica.

Outrage is brewing over its admission to spying on people via their Android phones. Its stock price plummeted, while millions deleted their accounts in disgust.

Facebook has also faced scrutiny over its failure to prevent the spread of “fake news” on its platforms, including via an apparent orchestrated Russian propaganda effort to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

Facebook’s actions – or inactions – facilitated breaches of privacy and human rights associated with democratic governance. But it might be that its business model – and those of its social media peers generally – is simply incompatible with human rights.

The good
In some ways, social media has been a boon for human rights – most obviously for freedom of speech.

Previously, the so-called “marketplace of ideas” was technically available to all (in “free” countries), but was in reality dominated by the elites.

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While all could equally exercise the right to free speech, we lacked equal voice. Gatekeepers, especially in the form of the mainstream media, largely controlled the conversation.

But today, anybody with internet access can broadcast information and opinions to the whole world. While not all will be listened to, social media is expanding the boundaries of what is said and received in public.

The marketplace of ideas must effectively be bigger and broader, and more diverse.

Social media enhances the effectiveness of non-mainstream political movements, public assemblies and demonstrations, especially in countries that exercise tight controls over civil and political rights, or have very poor news sources.

Social media played a major role in co-ordinating the massive protests that brought down dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as large revolts in Spain, Greece, Israel, South Korea, and the Occupy movement.

More recently, it has facilitated the rapid growth of the #MeToo and #neveragain movements, among others.

READ MORE: #MeToo is not enough: it has yet to shift the power imbalances that would bring about gender equality

The bad and the ugly
But the social media “free speech” machines can create human rights difficulties. Those newly empowered voices are not necessarily desirable voices.

The United Nations recently found that Facebook had been a major platform for spreading hatred against the Rohingya in Myanmar, which in turn led to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Video sharing site YouTube seems to automatically guide viewers to the fringiest versions of what they might be searching for. A search on vegetarianism might lead to veganism; jogging to ultra-marathons; Donald Trump’s popularity to white supremacist rants; and Hillary Clinton to 9/11 “trutherism”.

YouTube, via its algorithm’s natural and probably unintended impacts, “may be one of the most powerful radicalising instruments of the 21st century”, with all the attendant human rights abuses that might follow.

The business model and human rights
Human rights abuses might be embedded in the business model that has evolved for social media companies in their second decade.

Essentially, those models are based on the collection and use for marketing purposes of their users’ data. And the data they have is extraordinary in its profiling capacities, and in the consequent unprecedented knowledge base and potential power it grants to these private actors.

Indirect political influence is commonly exercised, even in the most credible democracies, by private bodies such as major corporations. This power can be partially constrained by “anti-trust laws” that promote competition and prevent undue market dominance.

Anti-trust measures could, for example, be used to hive off Instagram from Facebook, or YouTube from Google. But these companies’ power essentially arises from the sheer number of their users: in late 2017, Facebook was reported as having more than 2.2 billion active users. Anti-trust measures do not seek to cap the number of a company’s customers, as opposed to its acquisitions.

Power through knowledge
In 2010, Facebook conducted an experiment by randomly deploying a non-partisan “I voted” button into 61 million feeds during the US mid-term elections. That simple action led to 340,000 more votes, or about 0.14 percent of the US voting population. This number can swing an election. A bigger sample would lead to even more votes.

So Facebook knows how to deploy the button to sway an election, which would clearly be lamentable.

However, the mere possession of that knowledge makes Facebook a political player. It now knows that button’s the political impact, the types of people it is likely to motivate, and the party that’s favoured by its deployment and non-deployment, and at what times of day.

It might seem inherently incompatible with democracy for that knowledge to be vested in a private body. Yet the retention of such data is the essence of Facebook’s ability to make money and run a viable business.

Microtargeting
A study has shown that a computer knows more about a person’s personality than their friends or flatmates from an analysis of 70 “likes”, and more than their family from 150 likes. From 300 likes it can outperform one’s spouse.

This enables the micro-targeting of people for marketing messages – whether those messages market a product, a political party or a cause. This is Facebook’s product, from which it generates billions of dollars. It enables extremely effective advertising and the manipulation of its users.

This is so even without Cambridge Analytica’s underhanded methods.

Advertising is manipulative: that is its point. Yet it is a long bow to label all advertising as a breach of human rights.

Advertising is available to all with the means to pay. Social media micro-targeting has become another battleground where money is used to attract customers and, in the political arena, influence and mobilise voters.

While the influence of money in politics is pervasive – and probably inherently undemocratic – it seems unlikely that spending money to deploy social media to boost an electoral message is any more a breach of human rights than other overt political uses of money.

Yet the extraordinary scale and precision of its manipulative reach might justify differential treatment of social media compared to other advertising, as its manipulative political effects arguably undermine democratic choices.

As with mass data collection, perhaps it may eventually be concluded that that reach is simply incompatible with democratic and human rights.

‘Fake news’
Finally, there is the issue of the spread of misinformation.

While paid advertising may not breach human rights, “fake news” distorts and poisons democratic debate. It is one thing for millions of voters to be influenced by precisely targeted social media messages, but another for maliciously false messages to influence and manipulate millions – whether paid for or not.

In a Declaration on Fake News, several UN and regional human rights experts said fake news interfered with the right to know and receive information – part of the general right to freedom of expression.

Its mass dissemination may also distort rights to participate in public affairs. Russia and Cambridge Analytica (assuming allegations in both cases to be true) have demonstrated how social media can be “weaponised” in unanticipated ways.

Yet it is difficult to know how social media companies should deal with fake news. The suppression of fake news is the suppression of speech – a human right in itself.

The preferred solution outlined in the Declaration on Fake News is to develop technology and digital literacy to enable readers to more easily identify fake news.

The human rights community seems to be trusting that the proliferation of fake news in the marketplace of ideas can be corrected with better ideas rather than censorship.

However, one cannot be complacent in assuming that “better speech” triumphs over fake news. A recent study concluded fake news on social media:

… diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information.

Also, internet “bots” apparently spread true and false news at the same rate, which indicates that:

… false news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.

The depressing truth may be that human nature is attracted to fake stories over the more mundane true ones, often because they satisfy predetermined biases, prejudices and desires. And social media now facilitates their wildfire spread to an unprecedented degree.

Perhaps social media’s purpose – the posting and sharing of speech – cannot help but generate a distorted and tainted marketplace of fake ideas that undermine political debate and choices, and perhaps human rights.

What next?
It is premature to assert the very collection of massive amounts of data is irreconcilable with the right to privacy (and even rights relating to democratic governance).

Similarly, it is premature to decide that micro-targeting manipulates the political sphere beyond the bounds of democratic human rights.

Finally, it may be that better speech and corrective technology will help to undo fake news’ negative impacts: it is premature to assume that such solutions won’t work.

However, by the time such conclusions may be reached, it may be too late to do much about it. It may be an example where government regulation and international human rights law – and even business acumen and expertise – lags too far behind technological developments to appreciate their human rights dangers.

At the very least, we must now seriously question the business models that have emerged from the dominant social media platforms.

Maybe the internet should be rewired from the grassroots, rather than be led by digital oligarchs’ business needs.

Dr Sarah Joseph is director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia.This article was first published by The Conversation and has been republished by Asia Pacific Report under a Creative Commons licence.

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