• Martin Gagnon

Bamse...Smarter Than Your Average Bear

This weekend I have lots of reading to do including a new report that offers lots of ideas on the fight against disinformation. The Law Library of the United States Congress released a survey report titled “Initiatives to Counter Fake News in Selected Countries.” The 111 page report documents examines measures taken by 15 individual countries to combat fake news.

The report states that the countries included in the study are addressing the fake news problem through one or more of the following four approaches:

1) Applying relevant provisions of existing civil, criminal, administrative, and other laws regulating the media, elections, and anti-defamation (Canada, Japan, Nicaragua, Sweden, and the United Kingdom), even though these laws, enacted in the pre-internet era, do not always reflect current technological and telecommunications developments.

2) Others are choosing to enact new and more focused legislation that imposes sanctions on social media networks that spread false news, usually imposing fines and ordering the removal of information identified as false (China, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Malaysia, and Russia).

3) Another option reflected in the country surveys is to engage election authorities and digital platforms to secure a well-informed electorate, either by identifying and blocking fake news, providing fact-checking resources for the general public, or through the mass publication of “real” news during election season and beyond (Argentina, the UK, China, and Malaysia.

4) Some of the countries are also addressing the issue in a more general way by educating citizens about the dangers of fake news (Sweden and Kenya). Sweden starts at a young age, having enlisted a famous cartoon character to teach children about the dangers of fake news through a cartoon strip that illustrates what happens to the bear’s super-strength when false rumors are circulated about him

Bamse the bear (right) is about to tackle one of today's biggest subjects. Photo: Bamse/Egmont

The popular Swedish cartoon character is set to teach children in Sweden about the dangers of fake news and the need to be critical of sources in a soon to be released comic book.


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