Mr. Bojan Kordalov is an experienced public policy/comms professional managing complex strategic projects for governments, international organizations, CSOs; facilitating sustainable digital transition for benefit of the good governance.
“Thank you to CIVIL for this valuable event and I believe that we will contribute with this question, discussions. First of all, I would like to say two things. The first thing is that the majority of the population is actually not part of this process of fake news and hate speech, although those who are doing that are very loud and doing a bad job and we see the consequences in the previous decades of that. We especially see the consequences now, when we live in a digitalized era and we live in a society, which is based on Internet technology, spreading information not just from a village to a village, city to city, but around the globe, around the world. We also have to mention the second thing – that the social media actually are tools. Just tubes. They are not live, they are not media such as the traditional media, which are led by journalists, editors, cameramen and etc. These are just tubes. And actually behind each fake news, or each hate speech, lies, are real persons with a name and surname. So, it’s not the social media as itself spreading the fake news or the hate speech, but a person, personality. That is very important as the start of the discussion. I will say that there are two main questions when discussing these very, very important topics.”, pointed Kordalov at the beginning of his address on the Regional Conference “Attacks on democracy and human rights”, on 28 july 2021, in Skopje.
In addition, Kordalov says that encouraging debate without hate speech and discrimination is crucial.
“First is how to encourage debate, real debate, without hate speech and without discrimination. That is what we have to answer and try to answer. And the second is how to make real news, or one of the participants previously said, just news. How to make news and information more worthy or more clickable than the fake news.
These are the one million dollar questions that we should work on, not just debate, and find the answers, because if we find this answer we can focus on battling and winning this battle.
So, I will give one of the answers again with the question. How many of the institutions that you know, all of you, here and virtually, or public authorities, actually have moderation policies of their social media accounts? How many of them? Moderation policies that encourage debate, which means that they discourage hate speech, discourage fake news, and most important take on quick measures against this? I am not talking about negative comments, which means I disagree with your policy, which is fine, which is democracy. I am talking about comments with hate speech, with discrimination, with a lot of fake news. I will say my answer will be almost none. What is yours?”, pointed Kordalov.
Kordalov stressed that the public institutions are responsible for not acting appropriately or at all against hate speech and fake news.
“I don’t think there is a need, especially for us here and on the other side of the auditorium virtually, to remind that the hate speech may lead, and actually leads towards concrete criminal acts. That’s sure because it’s most probably that lot of the people who use hate speech may do something that is really criminal or problematic, at that moment or maybe later. But my main topic, and I will give a conclusion with this, for today will be what is the focus or what public institutions can do in this important fight? Because these two processes as we have put in this agenda, hate speech and disinformation, are really problematic and we should tackle them as one.
So, what actually can the public institutions do? Firstly, act. They should start acting, not just talking. Acting most in prevention, but also to be more effective in sanctioning of the criminal things that are happening regarding these two topics. Second, creating an atmosphere for debate, through inclusiveness, and which will include different opinion, especially different opinion that is different from the actual government, parties in power. This is not just for now, it is for the past and It must refer also to the future, because we must, we have to actually agree that democracy means different opinions. But it doesn’t mean opinions with hate speech, discrimination and fake news. It means different opinions because debate is crucial for democracy and for fighting these negative topics we are discussing. Third thing – creating moderation policies that we spoke about. Because as in the regular criminal law, when we talk about predictability, of what you should do or should not do, and have a sanction, the same thing should be applied here, which means moderation policies have to clearly state what’s not acceptable in the social media of the institutions of the public authorities, clearly state what’s not acceptable because it’s going against the law and is problematic. So, this means moderation policies that will encourage debate and arguments, encourage debate on facts and not on hate speech.”, said Kordalov.
“The fourth thing, I think also the professor before me mentioned the education process, which is really, really important. And I won’t take a lot of time to say this because it was mentioned before, but also institutions should be an example in creating inclusive communication and educate how to do it, because we need more personal, more institutional examples than a debate.
And the fifth and final advice, which will help us fight and battle these two negative phenomena is giving professional, timely public services. So, each public institution must give professional services, because that will lead towards satisfaction to all citizens, which will make fake news, but also hate speech, really decreasing. Because giving equal access to everyone, which is really important, taking concrete steps against discrimination, which leads through example of what public institutions should do, can make the change. Actually I strongly believe that this is just one part, but as a start of the discussion. This will be the main start for our journey, and it will help us to win these two battles. One against fake news and the second against hate speech and discrimination, which are really problematic and which combined together makes the society look like it looks now. And if we do not take concrete measures now, that means that maybe later it will be too late.”, concluded Kordalov.
Camera: Dehran Muratov
Video Editing: Arian Mehmeti
Photography: Ognen Boshnjakovski