A panel titled “Crisis of Trust: Nobody Believes You!” was held at Reichman University’s School of Communication on the occasion of the launch of the book Public Trust – Its Reflection in the Media and Politics by Dr. Amit Lavie Dinur and Dr. Yuval Karniel. Participating in the panel were Zulat President Zehava Galon, along with jurist Prof. Yaniv Rosnai, journalist Maya Aidan, and researcher Noam Menela.
Zehava Galon spoke about fake news, a phenomenon examined in a wide-ranging report published by Zulat that included operative proposals for legislation. Among other things, she said: “Social media is a hotbed of manipulation. Some people realize that they can doctor facts and narratives and use them to advance agendas. A leader who has used and still uses fake news to advance a political agenda and to smear enemies is Binyamin Netanyahu, who has perfected the art of fake news to promote incitement, slander, and vilification. Fake news is used intentionally and maliciously to manipulate and feed false facts during an election period, when people need to make a choice.
“Zulat’s report Fake News and the Violation of Human Rights: Challenges and Responses contains proposals for comprehensive reforms. Fake news can lead to a crisis of trust in politicians, unruliness, depravity, and corruption, but also to the emergence of the ‘lone wolf,’ a person who is radicalized by social media and then turns to guns. This has been known to happen before, and still does. There are irresponsible people whose goal is to wrest away power by undemocratic means and by creating a false picture of the truth, and that is dangerous.
“The book raises concerns about what might happen in the absence of a responsible leadership to put a stop to it. In the face of fake news, which impairs the ability to obtain correct information, we propose to amend the Election Law. I am aware of the opinion that we are a democratic country and that such a move would violate freedom of expression, but it is inconceivable that we should reach a situation where in the end all we are left with is fake news.”
Watch Zehava’s full remarks (in Hebrew):