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Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and “Fake News”, Disinformation and Propaganda

16 March 2017
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Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and “Fake News”, Disinformation and Propaganda

by David Kaye, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression,

Dunja Mijatovic, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media,

Edison Lanza, the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, and

Pansy Tlakula, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information

with assistance of Article 19 and GFMD member Centre for Law and Democracy.

Key recommendations (source: Article 19):

  • Any prohibitions on the dissemination of information based on vague and ambiguous ideas, including “false” or “fake news” or “non-objective information”, are incompatible  with international standards for restrictions on freedom of expression;
  • State actors should not make, sponsor, encourage or further disseminate statements which they know or reasonably should know to be false (disinformation) or which demonstrate a reckless disregard for verifiable information (propaganda);
  • States have a positive obligation to promote a free, independent and diverse communications environment, including promoting media diversity, which is a key means of addressing disinformation and propaganda, and including strong, independent and adequately resourced public service media;
  • Internet intermediaries should adopt clear, pre-determined policies governing the content on their platforms, including those related to disinformation and propaganda. These policies should be based on objectively justifiable criteria, should be easily accessible and understandable and should be adopted after consultation with their users. Any restrictions on content by intermediaries should respect minimum due process guarantees.
  • The media and journalists should, as appropriate, support effective systems of self regulation whether at the level of specific media sectors (such as press complaints bodies) or at the level of individual media outlets (ombudsmen or public editors) which include standards on striving for accuracy in the news.
  • All stakeholders – including intermediaries, media outlets, civil society and academia – should be supported in developing participatory and transparent initiatives for creating a better understanding of the impact of disinformation and propaganda on democracy, freedom of expression, journalism and civic space, as well as appropriate responses to these phenomena.

You can download the Joint Declaration in English here.

You can download the Joint Declaration in Arabic here.

You can download the joint Declaration in Russian here.