Law Minister Anisul Huq yesterday called upon mainstream media houses to come forward and fight fake news, saying the job cannot be done successfully by the government alone.
“Alongside the government, mainstream media houses have important roles to play to this end. They have to produce objective reports and reach those to readers in quickest possible time so they do not rely on social media,” he said.
The minister was addressing a symposium at the capital's Cosmos Centre.
Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic wing of Cosmos Group, hosted the symposium on “Fake News and Hate Speech, Causes and Consequences: How It Subverts Our Democratic Systems”.
It was part of a newly introduced programme titled “Distinguished Speakers Series”.
Dan Shefet, an expert on European and information technology law, was the keynote speaker.
Addressing as the chief guest, Minister Anisul said, “Media houses have to come out of the tendency of hiding information or remaining silent. We need to keep in mind where path to access the truth stops, fake news begins its journey.”
He said the government has taken multiple measures to stop publishing and spreading of fake news, including formulation of the Digital Security Act and formation of cyber court.
He said in many countries including Bangladesh, Facebook and Twitter are used as primary sources of information for news reports. If that is done with responsibility and professionalism, chances of risk will minimise, he added.
The minister said new technology should be developed to tackle fake news.
He suggested users to think twice before sharing any web link on social media, saying even an unintentional share of fake news can lead to an untoward incident.
“If a person cannot identify fake news properly it would be wise for him or her to rely on a credible news media, which would also help reduce spread of fake news,” said the minister.
Delivering his lecture on the topic, Dan Shefet said the type of fake news which is a real threat to democracy is the one close to the fact.
Shefet, president of Paris-based Association for Accountability and Internet Democracy, stressed on formulating a specific law on fake news and hate speech to combat those successfully, and brining internet gatekeepers under accountability.
Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, principal research fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, chaired the session.
Cosmos Foundation Chairman Enayetullah Khan delivered the welcome speech.