The Malta Independent 21 March 2019, Thursday

The world wide web

Francis Zammit Dimech Wednesday, 13 March 2019, 13:50 Last update: about 8 days ago

In his weekly vlog MEP Francis Zammit Dimech says that the internet and social media have revolutionised the way we live, from communication to acquiring goods we need. It has become a vital tool for us. Meanwhile it has unfortunately also become also a means for illicit activity. In this regard, over the past months he worked on a new EU law to prevent the dissemination of terrorist content online. He met various stakeholders including  Facebook and Google.

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Zammit Dimech made a number of proposals to ensure that authorities in Member States to be involved in the removal of illegal content online are independent. He insisted that there should also be effective and accessible mechanisms allowing submission of a complaint when content has been removed and for competent authorities to publish annual transparency reports on the actions taken including number of removal orders made.

Zammit Dimech, who is a member of the Media Committee at the European Parliament, said that while ensuring a safe online environment we also need to ensure that this new EU regulation will not supress freedom of expression or impede dissemination of journalistic, research or educational content.

Zammit Dimech furthermore spoke about the dissemination of fake news.  He referred to the case whereby names of Maltese personalities were used without their consent to disseminate fake news including pro-government propaganda through sponsored adverts which encouraged Maltese and Gozitan Facebook users to visit websites and articles with scams.

He also added that efforts need to be made to diminish and ideally eliminate hate speech including that inciting aggression. Here he referred to the case of Jake Vella who currently battles one of the rarest conditions in the world who became the target of a distasteful meme which was shared on Facebook. He said that Facebook had to strengthen proactive measures to fight fake news and hate speech and that more investment was needed in media literacy. 

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