Press freedom “drowned” in disinformation, denounces RSF


Political propaganda, economic manipulation, false content generated by artificial intelligence… Disinformation in the broad sense…

Press freedom “drowned” in disinformation, denounces RSF

Press freedom “drowned” in disinformation, denounces RSF

Political propaganda, economic manipulation, false content generated by artificial intelligence… Disinformation in the broad sense is a major threat to press freedom around the world, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warns in its 21st annual ranking published this Wednesday.

The world ranking of press freedom is compiled by RSF on the basis of “a quantitative survey of abuses committed against journalists”, on the one hand, and “a qualitative study”, on the other. The latter is based “on the answers of hundreds of press freedom experts (journalists, academics, human rights defenders) to a hundred questions”.

“Simulation industry in the digital ecosystem”

This 2023 edition particularly highlights the effects of misinformation. In two thirds of the 180 countries ***essed, the specialists who contribute to the development of the ranking “report the involvement of political actors” in “m***ive disinformation or propaganda campaigns”, according to RSF. This is the case of Russia, India, China or Mali.

More broadly, this ranking “highlights the dazzling effects of the simulacrum industry in the digital ecosystem”. “It is the industry that makes it possible to produce disinformation, to distribute it or to amplify it”, explains to AFP Christophe Deloire, secretary general of the NGO. This is, according to him, the case of “leaders of digital platforms who don’t care about distributing propaganda or false information”, and whose “typical example” is “the owner of Twitter, Elon Musk “.

Large-scale manipulations

Another phenomenon is fake content created by artificial intelligence (AI). ” MidJourney , an AI that generates images in very high definition, feeds social networks with more and more plausible fakes”, underlines for example RSF. The organization also cites fake photos of the arrest of Donald Trump “recovered in a viral way”.

We are also witnessing “large-scale manipulative productions” by specialized companies, on behalf of governments or companies. In February, a vast investigation by the collective of investigative journalists Forbidden Stories had thus revealed the activities of an Israeli company called “Team Jorge” and specialized in disinformation.

Difficulty identifying right from wrong

All these “unprecedented manipulative capacities are used to weaken those who embody quality journalism, at the same time as they weaken journalism itself”, warns RSF. “Reliable information is drowned in a deluge of disinformation”, judge Christophe Deloire

According to him, “we perceive less and less the differences between the real and the artificial, the true and the false”. “One of the major challenges is to put democratic principles back into this gigantic market for attention and content,” said the secretary general of the NGO.

Brazil’s comeback since Bolsonaro’s departure

In the general ranking, the best rated country is, without change, Norway and the last, North Korea. The most significant drops are observed in Peru (110th, -33 places), Senegal (104th, -31 places), Haiti (99th, -29) or Tunisia (121st, -27). Overall, conditions for practicing journalism are poor in seven out of 10 countries.

Conversely, Brazil (92nd) moved up 18 places after the departure of former far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, beaten by Lula in the elections at the end of October. “Brazil had fallen a lot with Bolsonaro, who was violent towards journalists “, but “there is no inescapable character in the decline of the freedom of the press”, notes Christophe Deloire.

Police violence in France

And France? She goes from 26th to 24th place. This “small gain” is explained “in particular because the situation is deteriorating elsewhere”, nuances the NGO. However, RSF judged that “while the legal and regulatory framework is favorable to press freedom and editorial independence, the tools aimed at combating conflicts of interest are insufficient, unsuitable and outdated”.

The NGO also indicates that reporters working in France continue to be subject to police violence , in addition to attacks by demonstrators. And this, despite the adoption of a new policing scheme, deemed to be more respectful of the rights of journalists.


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