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Russia proposes labeling fake information on the Internet

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Russia proposes labeling fake information on the Internet

Russia’s largest online platforms and media will sign a new memorandum on fact-checking on Thursday, October 7, reports Vedomosti newspaper, citing a source familiar with the development of the agreement. Among the proposals in the memorandum is the labeling of fake users.

According to the newspaper, RBC, TASS, RIA, Rambler Co, Interfax, Vedomosti and The Bell are going to sign the memorandum. These media will be involved in checking information on online platforms, including Yandex.Zen and Mail.Ru Group, as well as Rutube and Avito. In addition to the above-mentioned publications, fact-checking will be handled by the ANO "Dialogue", and the holder of the memorandum will be the Regional Public Organization "Center for Internet Technologies". (ROCIT).

The document will be valid for one year with the possibility of extension, Vedomosti reported.

Representatives of Rambler Co and Avito confirmed that they will join the agreement, but did not elaborate on the details. The media confirmed their participation in the memorandum RIA Novosti and Interfax. Yandex and Mail.ru Group did not comment, while TASS, RBC and The Bell did not respond to the newspaper’s inquiry.

At first, the memorandum will be a framework – subsequently, the signatory organizations will have to agree on how exactly fake information will be monitored. In addition, the procedure for marking fakes is not clear yet, sources say – the parties to the memorandum will decide on this later.

According to the document, the online platforms themselves will have to detect false information – either during independent monitoring or at the request of users or fact-checkers. They will also make the final decision on recognizing a piece of information as fake. If a fake information is detected, the platforms will be obliged to remove, mark or refute the false information at their discretion. As a last resort, they will be allowed to resort to blocking the user who posted the fake information or restricting advertising or monetizing such content.

First of all, the memorandum on the labeling of fakes will affect the information on the number of deaths, for example, during the emergency, coronavirus and historical events, notes "Vedomosti". In addition, it will affect the data, provoking a rush demand for a particular product or the growth of its price and inciting ethnic discord.

At the same time, the memorandum does not yet have a clear definition of the information it covers. The newspaper’s sources say that it is user-generated content that will be labeled, not journalistic content. According to one of the sources, for example, Yandex’s Yandex.Zen platform, and not the Yandex.Novosti media news aggregator, is involved on the Yandex side. The social networks VKontakte and Odnoklassniki participate in the memorandum on behalf of the Mail.ru Group, while Rambler So – LiveJournal as a platform and Lenta.ru as a media fact checker. It is not clear from the note by Vedomosti whether the information posted in the official accounts of the media in social networks, in particular in VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, would fall under the agreement.

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