Can we ‘immunise’ society against fake news? What strategies can be adopted to safeguard public life and democratic institutions from disruptions caused by disinformation? How can credible journalism counter falsehoods spreading through rumour and social media?
A group of opinion leaders from government, research and civil society backgrounds will explore these key questions at the first Sri Lanka Digital Forum event on Tuesday, 18 September from 3:30 to 6 p.m. To be held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI), Independence Square, Colombo 7, the forum will be open free to all interested.
The lead speaker would be Deepanjali Abeywardena, Head of Media Research at the independent think tank Verite Research. The panel would consist of Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, Director General, Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka at the Ministry of Defence, and Gehan Gunatilleke, doctoral student in law at University of Oxford specialising in international human rights law.
The forum would be moderated by science writer Nalaka Gunawardene who is a digital media analyst and an Internet Governance Fellow.
This is the first in a series of open public forums themed as ‘Sri Lanka Digital Forum’ being organised by the non-profit educational company TVE Asia Pacific in partnership with Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) Sri Lanka.
Summing up the challenge of fake news, Nalaka Gunawardene says: “Democratic societies must exercise great caution in responding to fake news in legal or regulatory terms. There is a danger that governments – in their zeal to counter (what they consider) fake news – could impose direct or indirect censorships, suppress critical thinking, or take other steps that violate their commitments under international human rights law.”
“Fake news cannot be outlawed in free and open societies,” he argues. “Instead, we must find ways to cope with disinformation and info-manipulation. Independent fact-checking services and counter communication campaigns can help, but the best defence is enhancing citizens’ own ability to critically consume information – or digital literacy!”
No prior registration is required. The event is also open to the media.