Fake news: Ottawa has little control, according to notes for Melanie Joly

Fausses nouvelles: Ottawa a peu d’emprise, selon des notes pour Mélanie Joly

OTTAWA — The federal government does not believe we can make a difference only to stem the flow of false news which is breaking on the Canada, according to briefing notes prepared for the minister of Heritage Mélanie Joly.

According to documents obtained by The canadian Press, with a request for access to information, the government recognizes that false news could threaten the democratic institutions of Canada, in a context where traditional media are facing budgetary restrictions and financial challenges. The notes add, however, that the government does not believe able to make the stop.

The inability of the government to determine what Canadians should consider, or not, as the false information is one of the reasons why Ottawa cannot intervene directly in this issue, based on the notes written last November by the deputy minister Graham Flack.

Conspiracy theory

Even if the government tried to identify publicly the false stories circulating, Graham Flack fears of trigger the opposite effect, suggesting that this could further strengthen the conspiracy theory among readers convinced and lead to more shares.

All in all, the notes come to the conclusion that the role of combating the disinformation should not rest solely on the shoulders of the government and that there is no “simple solution”.

The association Media Info Canada, which represents nearly 1000 publications in digital and printed, believes the opposite. For its president, John Hinds, the solution is clear : “The antidote to the false information, it is the true information.”

“It is not a question of reinventing the wheel, it is to support the existing infrastructure that are capable of providing credible information to Canadians,” said Mr. Hinds.

This support may be just taking shape. In January, Mélanie Joly has suggested during a meeting with representatives of the Fédération nationale des communications (FNC-CSN), which has almost 6000 members, that the news industry should receive financial assistance in the upcoming federal budget to be presented next week.

However, in the documents received by The canadian Press, Ottawa address separately the two issues of false news and the financial difficulties of the traditional media.

The notes focus instead on partnerships between companies and social media organizations media education in order to combat the misinformation.

In a comment sent by e-mail, the minister Mélanie Joly has declared to be committed to working with companies in social media and other internet platforms to combat the misinformation. She did not want to comment on the possibility of financial assistance for the media in the upcoming federal budget.

Mélanie Joly said they consider the disinformation and misinformation as real problems in the face of which we must remain vigilant.

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