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Friday 25.05.2018 | Name days: Junora, Anšlavs
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Experts: education and media support play a major role in the fight against fake news

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUTo reduce the influence of fake news, society should be educated and supports should be provided to free and quality media, said participants of a discussion ‘Latvia’s security in 21st century: fake news as an instrument to influence people’s opinion’ organized in Riga Castle on 6 December.

Opening the discussion, Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis admitted that there is still a lot to do to increase society’s and politicians’ resilience against fake news. «Fake news is one of the most powerful modern weapons used against the hearts and minds of Latvian residents,» said the president, adding that critical thinking should be taught to society and the quality of the information space should be improved.

According to the discussion’s special guest Mark Galeotti, senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and coordinator of its Centre for European Security, the risk of fake news is created by people who believe fake news do not affect him, even though in reality that is not true. The way people behave in familiar information space, which often excludes alternative opinions, also plays a major role. Galeotti said that dividing, distracting and demoralizing society are three main directions fake news from Russia is exploring in an attempt to influence the western society.

He also emphasized the importance of educating society to help people think more critically and be able to tell when someone lies to them, because Russia is not the only country that spreads disinformation: there is also ISIS and even different businesses hoping to sell something to people.

Jānis Sārts, Director of NATO Strategic Communication Excellence Center, mentioned that personal data that is compiled for business needs are more and more often used to influence people’s opinion. Sārts emphasized that the best weapon against fake news is independent thought.

Cert.lv deputy manager Varis Teivāns agrees that technologies will never replace quality education and healthy thinking processes in society.

Researcher from the Philosophy and Sociology Institute of the University of Latvia and European Policy Analysis Centre Mārtiņš Kaprāns and editor of Latvijas Avīze Māris Antonevičs analysed during the discussion the most common fake news topics that pop up in Latvia’s information space and their influence on people’s minds.

Kaprāns concluded that the most radical myths become less and less effective.

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