At June 23 Plenary Meeting the member of the RA NA delegation to PACE Armen Gevorgyan delivered a speech at the PACE Summer Session during the discussion on The Control of Online Communication: A Threat to Media Pluralism, Freedom of Information and Human Dignity.
“Thank you, Madam Chair,
Social networks and modern communication technologies have become the main tools for ideological influence over the past decade.
In a sense, we now live in an era where a new type of individual is being born: someone who has ceased belonging to his own state, his community or even to himself, but rather depending on social networks and the messages they broadcast.
This over-dependence on social networks has been leading to the disintegration of other fundamental democratic values and institutions. Top among them are free and fair elections. It creates a certain erosion of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. Experts have shown that via social networks, certain groups can potentially manipulate the political preferences of about 25 per cent of the electorate. Algorithms have already seized control of the emotions and wishes of millions of people worldwide. While entire states turn into digital colonies of their external administrators.
In our times, when social networks have degraded truth and facts to only secondary importance compared to feelings when some politicians successfully practice posts through politics, we must acknowledge that democratic and republican form of governance is in deep crisis. The above-mentioned processes now form a new format of communication between governments and the governed. Here, the democratic form of governance is not necessarily the unquestionable choice for ensuring sustainable developments of modern states. The government can no longer disregard the moods expressed in likes and dislikes on social networks. Some of them, at the same time, use social networks in order to sway public moods, stir division in society and artificially dominate public discourse, especially in times of nationwide campaigns.
The Council of Europe and this Assembly, in particular, must identify a reasonable balance and good merit of measuring the democratic credentials of European States. Namely, we shall work to develop a code of conduct for democratic states where governments, in particular, must be urged to ensure the right of the public to communicate freely online without interference. This includes not only adopting legal provisions to undermine organised networks disseminating fake news and hate speech, but also proactively investing in improving major literacy among the public. Of course, it must be the role of this organisation to find a reasonable balance and prevent this from becoming a punishment tool at the hands of the government against media and online activism, and indeed, promote a free and pluralistic flow of information online, which is respectful of human rights.” Armen Gevorgyan concluded his speech.
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