Presenting a statement at the just-ended Global Media Freedom Conference co-hosted by the UK and the Canadian governments, in the United Kingdom yesterday, Siliya, who is also chief government spokesperson, applauded the two countries for their initiative to work together to defend media freedom and improve the safety of Journalists.
“Like many countries represented here, traditional Journalism in Zambia is being disrupted by New Media especially anonymous online publications and Citizen Journalism that have gained massive popularity. The growth of this new type of Journalism has not necessarily resulted in better journalistic practice. Most of our internet-based platforms are marred with poor and dishonest reporting, commonly known now, as fake news,” Siliya said according to a statement issued by first secretary press at the Zambian mission in London, Abigail Chaponda.
She said the challenge posed by fake news was a world phenomenon and nations should stand together to defeat it.
Siliya said all nations, big and small, rich or poor, need national and cross border legislation to address the lacunas in the management of technology platforms mostly owned by the private sector that are being used to spread the fake news.
“Domains of most online platforms are domiciled in one country where they pay taxes, yet their reach is global. Some form of revenue sharing with platform providers seems to be the long-term solution to serve the underserved as countries like Zambia have no choice but to introduce a tariff to sustain investment in optic fibre,” she said.
Siliya gave examples of fake news that was reported in the media last December where “there were many internet-based stories and newspaper publications, believed by many of our Citizens, purporting that the President had fallen ill and had been evacuated to South Africa – It was all fake news”.
“Again this year, we had publications about the Vice President having died, and once again, it was fake news. We are also reminded of an incident, when Prince Harry visited Zambia in November 2018. It was reported by a UK tabloid that Meghan could not travel with him for fear of catching the Zika virus. That was fake news because we all know that Zambia is not on the WHO Zika list nor anywhere near the Zika virus affected region. Even though the Tabloid rendered a clarification, following Governments complaint, the fake news had already gone viral, posing a risk to our tourism industry,” said Siliya. “Last year, various local and international publications reported that Zambia had mortgaged its public assets, including the Public broadcaster as collateral for Chinese loans but it was fake news.”