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Social Media Regulation from the Perspectives of National Media Regulatory Authorities in V4

Social Media Regulation from the Perspectives of National Media Regulatory Authorities in V4


The availability of studies which assess the implementation and performance of social media (SM) regulation within European Union countries is currently sub-optimal. Therefore, this study uses a problem-oriented approach, from a political-regulatory perspective, inspired by governance concepts, to investigate existing regulatory challenges within a specific region of Central and Eastern Europe. Based on interviews with the National Regulatory Authorities (NRA) experts from Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, and review of official documents, it provides insights on the regulatory policies and approaches enacted, proposed and used by NRAs. The study found that suggested approaches and opinions of the NRAs on possibilities of SM regulations show variety of challenges and that suggested regulatory approaches are often mutually contradictory. This study thus sets the stage for awareness creation among the key stakeholders that will facilitate further advancement of planned common social media regulatory protocols within the EU. Finally, this study sets a foundation for further regional or comparative studies on the regulation of social media.

This work has been supported by the European Union H2020 CSA Project COMPACT: From research to policy through raising awareness of the state of the art on social media and convergence, Project Number 762128, Grant Agreement 762128.

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An Exploratory Study of Global and Local Discourses on Social Media Regulation

An Exploratory Study of Global and Local Discourses on Social Media Regulation

Andrej Školkay

Abstract: This is a study of suggested approaches to social media regulation based on an explora-tory methodological approach. Its first aim is to provide an overview of the global and local debates and the main arguments and concerns, and second, to systematise this in order to construct taxon-omies. Despite its methodological limitations, the study provides new insights into this very rele-vant global and local policy debate. We found that there are trends in regulatory policymaking to-wards both innovative and radical approaches but also towards approaches of copying broadcast media regulation to the sphere of social media. In contrast, traditional self- and co-regulatory ap-proaches seem to have been, by and large, abandoned as the preferred regulatory approaches. The study discusses these regulatory approaches as presented in global and selected local, mostly Euro-pean and US discourses in three analytical groups based on the intensity of suggested regulatory intervention.

This study is a partial result of the Cooperation and Support Action Project H2020: Compact: From Research to Policy Through Raising Awareness of the State of the Art on Social Media and Convergence, Project Number 762128.

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Future Research on Conver gence and Social Media

Future Research on Conver gence and Social Media

Andrej Školkay
with contributions by Lukasz Porwol, Bissera Zankova, Klara Szalay, Ľubica Adamcová, Igor Daniš, Veronika Vighová and Adina Marincea

A large combination of the public journalistic academic opinions presented in the media started voicing suggestions on how to regulate social media, during 2018 and 2019 in EU countries and a few of the other non EU countries. The summary of these suggestions is is the key part of this report. These findings are presented in thematic blocs and special tables.

Furthermore, the report explores the political intentions and the legal activities that are being carried out to prevent the impact with the social harms across several countries of the world. Moreover, an overview of about 50 expert comme ntators and the politicians who are trying to approach the social media with an aim to control them internationally and globally has been presented.

This selection not only gives a sample of the discourses and overview of the issues globally, but it also broadens the traditional regulatory perspective that focuses on self, co, and a public (state) regulation. Furthermore, by definition, the legal discourses show a specifically narrow contribution to the regulatory debate. Thus, there is emerging a clear gl obal view regarding the steps taken towards the social media regulation and the agreement that the social media regulation is needed. For this challenging task, global or at least regional consensus is the best option. However, there is not a full consensu s either at the key issues that should be regulated or how the regulation of social media should look like. In contrast, a number of authoritative states simply pass the legislation regulating social media or some aspects of them, while for the blocs of th e states such as the EU, it is important to first strengthen the self regulation, including the fast checking process and explore these issues through detailed reports of the issues that are at stake.

The foremost policy issues discussed during a period in question appeared to be to fight against the fake news, and to protect the social media users against social harms. However, traditional focus to support the pluralistic legacy media and the journalism may not be sufficient strategy in mid term perspective. Neither support for the media education, critical thinking skills and digital competence, and the media literacy among young people may work in the short term. Yet the regulatory actions are urgently needed. Moreover, this approach is challenged on co nstitutional (if there is a free speech, why we should limit or ban even fake speech?) and definitional grounds (what is “fake news” and who should determine them).

While coregulation is slowly taking place, self regulation of social media seems to be an abandoned approach in many countries. As many regulatory attempts based on legacy media have documented, the traditional solutions are not workable either. In order to tackle the social media harms, in additional to standard, business type electronic/digi tal media regulation , economy based approaches towards social media regulation and technology based approaches are emerging in the discourse of modern regulations.

The results of media (mainly political, expert and journalistic) discourses on social media regulation suggest that in the current, rather specialised academic fields, including public regulatory policies specialists, there is a need for a more diverse and more innovative regulatory approaches.

With an aim to tackle the social media harms, t echnology based approaches may include methods such as the micro targeted advertising, prohibition of the data intensive collecting and even, under exceptional circumstances, shutting down of Facebook and other social media. Adjusting the sensitivity of th e algorithms, technology has allowed tracking platforms that promote hateful content. During the terrorist attacks broadcast online, these platforms can also speed up their monitoring and checking procedures. To flag the content for the immediate removal, temporary quarantines may be introduced that may be re examined later. They may be constitutionally problematic as compared to any other context than just during emergency.

Social media platforms might consider to ban the extensive sharing of the problematic content within atic content within their sites. The first solution has already been applied by Whatsapp, and later on at some other their sites. The first solution has already been applied by Whatsapp, and later on at some other platforms. platforms. The above described approach is calledThe above described approach is called algorithmalgorithm–incentives based approach. This incentives based approach. This approach ensures that the content has been remoapproach ensures that the content has been removed from the site automatically by creating a ved from the site automatically by creating a shared database of hateful content making it possible to ban it completely. shared database of hateful content making it possible to ban it completely. Lastly, by Lastly, by organizing the organizing the platform algorithms that isolates the contribution from the harmful actor’s, regular efforts can work platform algorithms that isolates the contribution from the harmful actor’s, regular efforts can work
It is mentioned that as there is already in operation some “propaganda filters” or spam filter for fake It is mentioned that as there is already in operation some “propaganda filters” or spam filter for fake news, and there also are tools for the parents that can help them regulate the behavior of their news, and there also are tools for the parents that can help them regulate the behavior of their children online. The deeper involvement of the AI is exchildren online. The deeper involvement of the AI is expected by Zuckerberg in five to ten years. In pected by Zuckerberg in five to ten years. In the meantime, some of the educators should target parents on how to use tools to protect their the meantime, some of the educators should target parents on how to use tools to protect their children and themselves too.children and themselves too.

A number of interesting economyeconomy–based approachesbased approaches are emerging. These approaches use mare emerging. These approaches use motivation otivation in order to motivate (reward) or sanction (punish) in the groups of either provider or the user in order to motivate (reward) or sanction (punish) in the groups of either provider or the user (platforms). To allow permission to use, in some countries governments outline policies for social (platforms). To allow permission to use, in some countries governments outline policies for social media platforms that charge citizens who use the somedia platforms that charge citizens who use the social media platforms and indemnification for the cial media platforms and indemnification for the social media data breachsocial media data breach..

Then there is an idea (“reward”) to come up with a new data dividend for the users for the use of their data. Some further suggest to authorize on the cartel legislations for the abtheir data. Some further suggest to authorize on the cartel legislations for the abuse market use market dominance or for gathering the information from the users, and there is the idea to break up the big dominance or for gathering the information from the users, and there is the idea to break up the big platforms. Finally, plans go further platforms. Finally, plans go further — to look for the nonto look for the non–commercial ownership to social media commercial ownership to social media platforms and the development of a European versplatforms and the development of a European version of Facebook. ion of Facebook.

A number of researches have suggested that by smearing on both the inducements–based economic based economic strategies, better outcomes could prevail. Generally,strategies, better outcomes could prevail. Generally, retribution is one of the most longretribution is one of the most long–lasting lasting features, but combining remuneration and casfeatures, but combining remuneration and castigation works besttigation works best. Moreover, to alter the three . Moreover, to alter the three components of the motivation (altruistic motivation, material selfcomponents of the motivation (altruistic motivation, material self–interest and social or selfinterest and social or self–image image concerns) can also change the making that is being attached to the anticoncerns) can also change the making that is being attached to the anti–social behavior and hence, social behavior and hence, leads leads in the reputational incentive to engage in the reputational incentive to engage in it.

Within our sample, the most innovative stream of suggestions seems to focus on establishing iindependently owned servers and/or new publicly owned social media. There are also some ndependently owned servers and/or new publicly owned social media. There are also some interesting technical solutiinteresting technical solutions such as ons such as Noble´s proposal that future public platforms should set limits Noble´s proposal that future public platforms should set limits on how quickly content circulates. on how quickly content circulates. The other, traditional regulatory alternatives, seems to be focused The other, traditional regulatory alternatives, seems to be focused on breaking up the tech giants and/or to enforce antitrust, and/or copyright on breaking up the tech giants and/or to enforce antitrust, and/or copyright and/or data privacy and/or data privacy legislation. In general, there is an increasing tendency to enforce traditional lawlegislation. In general, there is an increasing tendency to enforce traditional law–based regulation for based regulation for social media, similar to television and radio media, similar to television and radio regulation.

Policy and decision makers’ may follow regulatory approaches that are guand decision makers’ may follow regulatory approaches that are guided by values such as ided by values such as conceptual clarity, technical feasibility and considering adverse consequences. The specific conceptual clarity, technical feasibility and considering adverse consequences. The specific procedures based on these values should be conversed clearly, and lead to cumulative regulatory and procedures based on these values should be conversed clearly, and lead to cumulative regulatory and podiums operations transparency.podiums operations transparency. The regThe regulatory perspective of the human rights/legal perspective ulatory perspective of the human rights/legal perspective should include the appeal process (both of the platforms and users).should include the appeal process (both of the platforms and users).

This is partial deliverable of the H2020 CSA Project: COMPACT: From Research To Policy Through Raising Awareness of the State of the Art on Social Media and Convergence, Project Number 762128.

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Populist Political Movement Sme rodina – Boris Kollár

Populist Political Movement Sme rodina – Boris Kollár
(We Are a Family – Boris Kollár)

Andrej Školkay, Viera Žúborová

Abstract: This is an exploratory study of populist political movement Sme rodina – Boris Kollár (We Are a Family – Boris Kollár, since November 2019 only Sme rodina). The paper first locates this movement into a lose concept/sui generis family of political parties (the niche party), arguing in contrast to some typologies that this is primarily protest populist party presenting some niche issues, and only secondarily, an entrepreneurial party. The paper also answers the question why this party is considered as being populist by many political and non-political actors and analysts. The paper also suggests that there is actually non-existent, but assumed direct correlation between the support for this party and the decline in the standard of living, as sometimes presented in public discourse. In contrast, it is suggested here that there may be stronger links between relative poverty, feeling of being abandoned by political elites/parties, and low educational levels. Moreover, there played an important role previous knowledge (celebrity status) of the party leader who was often presented and discussed in tabloid media. For this reason, many young females voted for this party. The party also managed to raise a widely perceived problematic issue that was seen as not tackled sufficiently or at all by the previous governments and other competing political parties (the niche or salient issue).

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 822590 (DEMOS Project)

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David and Goliath: An investigative journalist versus criminals protected by a partially captured state

David and Goliath: An investigative journalist versus criminals protected by a partially captured state

Andrej Školkay (with contributions by Joseph
Borg and Mary Anne Lauri)

In February 2018, Slovakia ended a long period without the murder of a media person when a young investigative journalist, Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, were slain in their home. While in previous instances of journalist disappearances the possibility of murder could not be precluded, lack of evidence makes this case the first. The killing in question, which is regarded as a turning point in the modern history of Slovakia, was the first since the country gained independence in 1993. It strongly suggests that unknown criminals were more afraid of a young, semi-independent investigative journalist than of law enforcement agencies in the country. According to an opinion poll carried out by the Focus agency in the latter part of 2018, the murder of Ján Kuciak and his fiancé was the most important national event of that year. Respondents could name a maximum of two events from a list of suggested items, or suggest ones they considered the most important. 1 Forty-five percent of respondents cited the murder as the key event in Slovakia in 2018. At the same time, half of the poll’s top ten most important events in 2018 were associated directly with the killing, or indirectly to its consequences. Leading ones included the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico (38 percent), public protests in city squares (21 percent), the resignation of Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák (18 percent), and the imprisonment of Marian Kočner, an infamous entrepreneur (18 percent). Additional political and state authority resignations continued throughout early 2019 (see Hanák, 2019) as new information was leaked from
police investigations. …

(page 68-86)

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A Comparison of Fake News Detecting and Fact-Checking AI Based Solutions

A Comparison of Fake News Detecting and Fact-Checking AI Based Solutions

Andrej Školkay
Juraj Filin

Scientifi c objective of this paper is to analyse how advanced are Artifi cial Intelligence (AI) tools to fight successfully information disorder. More specifi cally, this is an overview and ranking on existing tools based on AI in this specifi c area. Research method is comparative analytics. We compare the most developed and publicly available fake-news detecting and fact-checking AI based solutions (intelligent machines). The comparison is based on two key parameters: accuracy and comprehensiveness. Results and conclusions: Analyse show that a third of the examined AI systems are, in terms of comprehensiveness, in the top category, while the majority are in the medium category. As far as accuracy is concerned, very few AI machine developers are interested in providing further details about their products and functionalities for studies such as ours which raises suspicions about their actual performance. Surprisingly, one of the most discussed AI systems among EU leaders seems to actually belong to the least developed. Cognitive value: There is a need for a larger and more detailed study with involvement of AI specialists who would be able, and allowed, to test all available AI machines with their key features and functionalities.

This is partial deliverable of the H2020 CSA Project: COMPACT: From Research To Policy Through Raising Awareness of the State of the Art on Social Media and Convergence, Project Number 762128.

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What does the murder of journalist and follow-up events, tell us about freedom of the press and politics in a European country?

What does the murder of journalist and follow-up events, tell us about freedom of the press and politics in a European country?


Abstract: In February 2018, Slovakia´s long history of the absence of journalist murder case ended, when a young investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, and his fiancée were murdered in their home. While previous cases of the disappearance of journalists cannot be totally dissociated from the possibilities of murder, a lack of evidence qualified this case as the first. The cascade of events which followed further emphasise its importance. Prime Minister Robert Fico was forced to resign. Resignations of the Minister of Culture, almost immediately, and two Ministers of the Interior followed. …

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The Gorilla Case of Slovakia

A Case-Specific Instance of Media Capture:
the Gorilla Case of Slovakia


Abstract: This article discusses an instance of case-specific self-inflicted partial media capture, acknowledging the chilling effect of legislation consistent with partial state capture. In general, this case illustrates the ethical and legal dilemmas in the reporting of a specific type of large-scale corruption in the media, which involves the denial of all accusations by most sources and a controversial stand by state authorities and politicians on the issue, forcing the media to primarily report rumors or contradictory claims and denials (after controversial files regarding the corruption were made public anonymously on the internet) or desist from reporting altogether (before the files were made public on the internet, due to possible libel threats). The findings question the normative expectations expressed in democratic theory related to the role of the media as a watchdog, in the specific context of large-scale corruption in post-communist states. Moreover, this paper suggests the need to re-examine the methodological aspects of quantitative content analysis of media coverage of corruption. This paper has also attempted to update the emerging theory on media capture with the term partial case-specific media capture.

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The Gorilla Case in Slovakia

Partial state capture by a single oligarchic group: The Gorilla Case in Slovakia


Abstract: The article discusses the Gorilla case, an officially still-contested partial state capture by a single local oligarchic group, in line with the (partial) Elite Cartels corruption pattern in Slovakia. Due to the manner in which evidence, although considered unofficial, was made available, this case illustrates secret political and business processes during partial state capture. The initial absence of the case in public, political, and academic discourses, suggests that state capture can be present and operate undetected for a long time. This study also shows that in-depth analysis of the Gorilla case was avoided by both domestic and international political scientists, despite its paramount practical and theoretical importance. This, in turn, reflects a methodological capture of political science. Consequently, this article disentangles the complexities of the Gorilla case and lays down the foundation for further studies. Specifically, it highlights the need for more careful research, terminological precision in both theory-building and empirical findings on state and media capture based on case studies, as well as re-assessment of the methodology of political sciences used in these research areas.

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Symposium on Social Media and Regulation in Converged Environment

Minutes from the first Symposium on Social Media and Regulation in Converged Environment “Lessons Learned, Policies Suggested, Trends Forecasted”

Bratislava, Slovakia – COMPACT Project

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Key findings and recommendations from the first Symposium on Social Media and Regulation in Converged Environment

The main discussion regarding the role of regulation of social media focused on how to control the information posted (in terms of the spread of fake news and hate speech) and how to protect the vulnerable groups. The speakers of the Symposium agreed on the need for regulation, however, there was less agreement concerning how social media can be regulated in practice. The dynamics of the technological development seem to be much faster than the legal process, still in EU we can already see some positive results concerning various innovative forms of regulation. One of the good although controversial examples of regulation is the German Network Enforcement Act which obliges social media to report how many posts they have deleted. The fact that social media are large business companies could be one of the challenges in regulating them, thus one of the recommendations was to rather cooperate with social networks, let them create their own sanction system for violating rules by the users. The threat of overregulation should be also kept in mind as it can lead to the restriction of the freedom of speech.  Increasing media literacy could be another effective way in raising awareness among users, making them less prone to consume fake news.  The main challenge seems to be introduction of regulating Video Sharing Platforms within revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive, where Ireland will play a key role. There seem to be issues that should be discussed in more detail, such as Virtual Reality, Personal Identity and Digital Identity, as well as apparently overrated Artificial Intelligence.


What was missing?

It was a bit surprising that no one tackled controversial radical Czech draft proposal on regulating social media in reverse order – to punish severely those who would delete posts by users (see materials PP 4.5a and PP 4.5b).

No one pointed out at the radical non-regulatory suggestion originating from Australia (see material PP 2. 0).

There was no discussion about past or recent examples of national courts intervention in regulating social media either (see on this materials PP 1.6 and PP 1.7), although the role of courts was raised.


Who was missing?

There were not present participants from the Czech Republic and only a single participant from Austria as well as from Poland (via Skype).

Among local stakeholders, there was no one participating from creative industries as well as from publishers, broadcasters and local social media companies. Neither local policy makers showed any interest (representative of the Ministry of Culture appologied at the last moment).


DAY 1 – 20. 02. 2019

Place: Slovenský Syndikát novinárov (Slovak Syndicate of Journalists), Župné námestie 7 (Zupne Square 7)

Welcome note by Vladimír Ješko, the vice-chairman of the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists, and by Andrej Školkay, director of the School of Communication and Media. Mr. Ješko supported the finding that individuals and technology companies have become more important curators of information and news than they were before. However, the legacy media –mostly audio-visual media and media websites –have a significant role to play. In fact, the news that is most read, shared, and discussed in social media is produced by professional news organisations. In particular, journalism is very much needed for the society.

Viliam Figusch, the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the School of Communication and Media, and former representative of Council of Europe to Slovakia, also expressed his best wishes to the participants where he pointed the fact that journalism is the expression of freedom of speech, but at the same time, it carries some restrictions on member states. Indeed, the most dominant issue that researchers within this project encounter seem to be in conflict and an integration/merger of legacy with new media functions. The second most frequently tackled relationship is between private and public roles and issues.


Research Agendas and Roadmaps in Europe

Andrej Školkay (discussion facilitator, SCM), Munir Podumljak (Partnership for Democratic Change, Croatia) and Oles Kulchytskyy (Association of European Integration, Ukraine) kicked off the discussion where Mr. Podumljak talked about pre-standardization, standardization, and regulation in general and the way it affects our lives.

Mr. Podumljak said that the limits that existed are not here anymore (see on this material PP 2.1). Facebook breaks the rules – it is at the same time producer, distributor, and moderator of contents. In every other area of business that would be regulated (see for example, PP 2.7), governments let the market be the driver of the development without thinking what it means. He questioned the need for social media and the type of information which should be there (see on this material PP 2.4a or German language version PP 2.4b).

The speaker mentioned two turning points: The first happened in the year 2008 during the Georgian war when a cyber-attack on governmental websites was used as a part of the Russian military strategy, and the second in the year 2013 when Robert Mercer, the CEO of Renaissance Fund, bought Cambridge Analytica to model the elections and predict seemingly unpredictable social developments.

The context became unpopular to everyone, but it caused a huge reaction. In the end, the speaker emphasised that we failed in pre-standardization, standardization, and regulation of the social media today. He also stated that the society needs to address these threats in the right direction, otherwise it may cause some detrimental effect. He mentioned the power of social media Brexit and election of Mr. Trump for a US President, as negative examples.

The second speaker Oles Kulchytskyy talked on the policy recommendations of social media prepared by COMPACT Project and disseminated before the event. The speaker said that the advantages of social media are known and appreciated but regarding its disadvantages, it can be harder to notice.  In general, rather than enhancing life satisfaction, social media seems to foster materialism and dissatisfaction with life. Fake news can be used in instances such as during the conflicts in Georgia or Ukraine or during elections campaigns in cyber-wars to form beliefs. Also, social media presents a picture of an ideal life and how it should look like which is not a real vision of life. It can cause depression among a large number of people that may feel vulnerable. It is as well the problem of economic growth since a big group of potentially productive young people is notable due to its mental depression to fully realise themselves, thus, to contribute economically to the well-being of countries they live in.  The speaker emphasised the need to help these groups of people who live under the potential threat coming from social media and underlined the necessity to elaborate the protection tools regarding social media.

Andrej Školkay later agreed with the previous speaker that social media can also be a threat to the society; he mentioned the importance of tackling fake news (see on this materials PP 2.6a and 2.6b and Slovak language version 2.6c) in terms of how they shape the society (with the example of 5-Star Movement in Italy). He pointed that suggested research findings (see material PP 1.1) and policy recommendations (see material PP 1.2) do consider neglected threats, e.g. when mothers, or parents in general, put photos of their children carelessly on social media, ignoring all dangers and privacy of their kids.

However, Munir Podumljak questioned the actions people implement in the field of social media and he emphasised the need to get the definition of democracy since if it is an ambivalent term, anyone can be elected as the head of a state.

After that, Oles Kulchytskyy pointed that the negative effect of social media may not be so visible but only to kids, as they are one of the most vulnerable groups of people that have to be protected.


Daniel Milo (GLOBSEC) asked this: We missed the rise of social media which led to the rise of xenophobia and have we managed to deal with it? Since now, we can see foreign actors who interfere with our democracy and our values.

Munir Podumljak replied that critical thinking is a part of dealing with this threat. Also, he pointed out that the interference into social media regulation must be carefully managed. Nonetheless, our societies were reluctant to craft the response to those threats. For the speaker, the actors involved in such cyber crimes should be treated as organized crime gangs and the ones who allowed it to happen must be persecuted.

Andrej Školkay declared precisely that new technologies did not have standards and these have caused the problems we are facing today. He cited from the report findings that suggest that ICTs have the tendency to launch their own practices rather than to “follow” the regulatory (pre) choices of the legislator. Yet, technical solutions cannot substitute the law.

Miroslav Brvništ’an (The Police Academy) doubted whether we are able to regulate social media saying that our legal system is not ready for it and it might take years to adopt how to accommodate the dynamics into the legal system. He asked if we are able to set some basic functioning rules?

Andrej Školkay disagreed saying that many actors like EU, for instance, have already achieved some positive results, being role models to the world, while for example, Russia is creating its own regulated internet space as well.

Munir Podumljak went on to say that, Facebook, for example, got the monopoly which does not have alternatives in many countries and people did not react to it at the right moment.

Tomaš Kriššák (Open Society Institute) questioned the issue on how to communicate the problems to the public – since it is a huge threat to our generation which people are not aware of.

Replying to the question, Mr. Podumljak mentioned distorting realities and the high necessity of having different opinions and the need to disagree with some important issues to learn.

Andrej Školkay wrapped up before the closure of the first panel saying that the issue is underestimated and there are some groups in the society that need to be targeted.


Fake News/Hoaxes and Social Media Regulation

The second-panel session involved dealing with the issue of fake news and Nelson Ribeiro (The Catholic University, Portugal) Ivan Smieško (the Police Force), and Daniel Milo (discussion facilitator, Globsec) were the panelists.


Mr. Milo kicked off the discussion by talking on the UK releasing an alarming report on fake news. In this report, it was written that social media personnel are “digital gangsters.” He mentioned the key recommendations from this report. The first was: the compulsory code of ethics, then, legal enforcement of such regulations and the necessity to reform election campaign laws.

Ivan Smieško spoke on his unique legal research on neglected issues, i.e. the possible criminal consequences of pressing reaction buttons on Facebook (such as love, like, laugh, etc.,). They are now the form of freedom of speech and the way to express the opinion (an example of «liking» the Holocaust denial article).  So, as the speaker said, the usage of reaction buttons can be considered as a form of hate speech and it needs to be regulated. As Mr. Smieško mentioned, social media should not be treated as a wild animal which we want to control by using chains but in a cooperative manner. He pointed out that we have to deal with the consequences if criminal law is applied in such cases. The speaker proposed social networks should create their own sanction system when all users have to accept their rules and sanctions for violating the rules. So, when a user violates it, he is going to be sanctioned (see on this more in materials PP 2.2a and PP 2.2b as well as in PP 4.6).

The following speaker, Nelson Ribeiro, challenged several issues. The first one is that the concept of fake news is very problematic and very ambivalent. He said that we used the definition but what does it mean? Where are its borders? Then, he continued by saying that news is considered to be journalism and fake news is fake journalism and fake news media is fake information. Thus, it erodes the real role of journalism in society. SM impact on journalism, distinguishing fabricated fake news and satire text. Fake news lead to fake journalism and then to fake minds. Yet, fake news began during the Cold War, if not earlier. The speaker also said that we tend to concentrate on political actors, however, it is not only the case since fake information nowadays also include companies which use it to take advantage over competitors.  However, there also are users, who are willing to disseminate fake news. The last thesis mentioned by the speaker is that social media needs to be regulated. The social media platforms are not interested in removing fake news on their own initiative – these fake news and hoaxes are usually emotional, thus, interesting, and the users tend to disseminate them further on their own initiative, while social media platforms benefit from this commercially. He also argued that social media is like a business and all kind of business is regulated by some laws, so why omit social media then? At the same time, the issue of users kicks in and they are even harder to regulate. The solution appears not only fight against fake news and hoaxes via regulation but also throughout the increasing quality of journalism. In the future, algorithms and new technology on clouds will be able to write good articles and make videos or manipulate reality. And all will be speeding up.

Mr. Milo asked Mr. Smieško about the way on how to sanction and whether it is not the case that we delegate too many decision- making power to the private companies

Mr. Smieško replied by giving the example of a Facebook user who was banned for 40 days. He said if something serves as evidence for prosecution by authorities, they should decide on whether to prosecute the person. And the question is whether it can be used since there is still the principle of free assessing of evidence by courts.  This means that judges can select what they consider trustworthy and relevant.

Then, Mr. Milo asked Mr. Ribeiro if this switch of decision-making of power to private companies is in full swing and how effective are these changes to the current codes of companies?

Mr. Ribeiro stated that if we want to make it work somehow the push to regulating social media will be obvious but not be enough. So, if we want to make it function, we need to make people aware of how social media function and make them knowledgeable about the risks of fake news and disinformation.

 However, Mr. Milo asked Mr. Smieško a question if during his research any information was removed from the internet?

Mr. Smieško then replied that in 2015 some anti-migrant Facebook pages were monitored and nothing was deleted. The speaker stated that social platforms did not deal with the content. However, some local politicians may pay for removing some of the undesirable information.

Later, Mr. Ribeiro doubted that the impact of fake news is huge, but it is still a problem and there is a hope on the side of journalists. He questioned what is happening to the institutions who were responsible for producing honest pieces of information? He also pointed that institutions ( the media)  which were the center of democracy are no longer functioning well. So, if we want to fight fake news we need to think about the role of journalists and media institutions.

In his turn, Mr. Milo challenged the speakers by asking if they are possibly fighting yesterday’s war.

Mr. Ribeiro provided the example of Brazil, where during the election campaign WhatsApp was used to disseminate fake information. It shows that while sometimes the discussion is focused on Facebook other platforms in which fake messages are more difficult to track are being used by those promoting disinformation. The speaker emphasised the necessity of media literacy. Also, he suggested that the fact that nation states cannot deal with these issues individually, as the platforms operate worldwide with Facebook having almost a monopoly since it also owns Instagram and WhatsApp.

Stefanie Fuchsloch  (Dortmund University of Technology, Germany) joined the discussion by explaining the principles of the Network Enforcement Act in Germany against hate speeches, determining what is fake news and where the line is (see more in this in material PP 2.3 and P 2.8). As the speaker said, the act was of a hot discussion in the country. Also, platforms have to report how much posted material they deleted (see material PP 2.19). The speaker pointed out that the discussion on what might be good is better on EU level than just on a local one.

Mr. Smieško added that there is a diversity among EU states regarding legislation, and if we decide on EU’s legal norms, there should be set on minimum standards and then each state should decide on standards at the local national level.

Nataša Slavíková (eslovenko NGO) asked Mr. Smieško how the developed reaction button will be developed. Mr. Smieško then explained that the usage of reaction buttons can be judged as a crime. If it is a crime, no need to judge from a material-legal point of view.

Munir Podumljak said that 3 elements of government are integrity, accountability, and transparency; they are all failing. The speaker noted that media literacy may fail as well since we fail to educate the society on democracy, its goals and the way it functions. He also points out that citizens started to accept universal justice as granted. As well, he emphasised that the anonymity we used to have in the 1990-es on the internet is gone for good.

DAY 2 – 21.02 2019

Place: Goethe Institut, Bratislava, room: Library, Panenská 33 (Panenska street 33)


Media regulators and social media regulations: new challenges

Panelists (from the left side): Stefanie Fuchsloch (Institute of Journalism), Vladimír Bačišin (Slovak Section of Association of European Journalists), Daniel Modrovský, Slovak Syndicate of Journalist, Krisztina Rozgonyi (discussion facilitator, University of Vienna), Ľuboš Kukliš, (ERGA), Michal Hradický (Board for Broadcasting and Retransmission).

Content regulation on the Internet in general, and in social media in particular, is hotly a debated issue from a global perspective. The reasons are obvious:  high frequency of fake news and hoaxes, as well as, more recently, so-called social harm caused by teenage social media users (see material PP 2.13).

There are conflicting interests in play. On the one hand, there are industry business interests; on the other hand, there are public interests related to ethics and security of nations and the safety for children.

It is perhaps not surprising that a revised AVMSD was the most discussed topic during the second day of the symposium (see materials P P1.3 and PP 3.3).

Krisztina Rozgonyi (Vienna University, Austria) kicked off the discussion by saying that 2018 platforms were under regular scrutiny and Germany adopted the first law in this area. So now, we can see the first results of it. On the EU’s level, there were adopted copyright directives (for international comparison, see PP 2.5). New regulations should be implemented in national laws in 20 months regarding online safety for Video Sharing Platforms. She also questioned how realistic EU’s regulations are and addressed the colleagues with the question of their roles in this process as journalists.

L’uboš Kukliš (The European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services, chair) argued about the importance of understanding the new regulation. The speaker stated that the media and state have always been important actors in this field but a new actor- user – was not appreciated enough. He stressed that there is now a societal need to protect users by implementing the protection of users’ rights. Mr. Kukliš as well pointed the shift in jurisdiction. Since many companies are based in Ireland, they are under Irish laws but cooperation among regulators is important too. However, according to the speaker, it is up to us to be responsive and work on good legislation.

The discussion was continued by Stefanie Fuchsloch saying more details about Network Enforcement Act in Germany which imposed regulations on social media which have to report half-year on how much they deleted (see material PP 2.19). The speaker provided the example of Facebook which out of 1700 items deleted 21%. Mrs. Fuchsloch also pointed out that so far, there are no complain forms from users. The speaker also emphasised the dilemma – whether it is freedom of speech or subjects under the criminal code. If companies do not delete the items needed, they can be blocked. As the speaker said, there is no authority above it, and currently, another independent body is needed to regulate it (see materials PP 2.8, 2.9).

Krisztina Rozgonyi asked the panelists what journalists and publishers could expect in the future.

The first speaker was Daniel Modrovský (Slovak Syndicate of Journalists, chair) who said that Slovakia is a specific region and what works in Germany, for example, social media regulation without authorities, may not work in Slovakia or in other countries. There is still no clear definition of media and journalism in Slovakia. So to regulate, it is necessary to know about the media environment in the country first.

Then, Krisztina Rozgonyi asked Mr. Modrovský on if things are to be made right internally, what would a journalist expect in regards to social media regulation.

Mr. Modrovský mentioned that maybe it is in the future for now. However, he pointed out that the EU is making regulations harder. The speaker also pointed out that, for instance, in Slovakia, many people publish independently but we cannot do many things about that since we cannot approach these people in classical terms.

Vladimír Bačišin (expert of the Association of European Journalists) continued the discussion by pointing at the two types of media such as the professional and amateur one.  Amateur journalism is under the informal influence; not under official original regulation and not in the context of the official conduct of the journalistic duties. The speaker added that the precise ways the recipients get the information from the publishers are not known. Additionally, it is not yet known if this news is fake or not. Vladimír Bačišin said that the choice to compare information was there but now, the main problem is the work with the sources of the new news.  He further went on to say that editorial offices in Slovakia do not function/work well, ethics is missing and editors fail. Then Facebook is the primary source of information for Slovak editorial offices. The editorial offices lack professional staff for checking info, recherché or documentary sections in the media.

Mrs. Rozgonyi went on with the discussion that points at the issue of the internal problems in Slovakia which needs to be solved. She addressed the question of what could regulators do at least for users.

Michal Hradický (Council for Broadcasting and Retransmission, Slovakia) replied that now we are not getting into written or traditional legal regulation and in media space, there are only targeted measures in specific context. The speaker added that the criteria for even definitions should be elaborated, and need to decide whether or not social media should be included. Later, the speaker stressed the growing importance of Irish legislation due to the fact that there are based the majority of the companies.

L’uboš Kukliš specified the definition of the country of origin principle meaning the place companies providing the services are based. He pointed the need to have harmonized rules meaning that the rules must be the same in all EU countries. The speaker continued that some actors now can choose where to be judged in a court due to the differences in legal systems across the EU and it needs to be stopped.

Mrs. Rozgonyi used the example of Holocaust denial prohibited in many countries and considered to be a crime, but it is not the case in Ireland. She asked her colleagues how the content uploaded in Slovakia would be regulated.

The need for change was noticed by Mr. Kukliš. He supposed that it might be the court, however, pointed the problem of small countries since the big ones have no problem approaching such giants such Facebook (see also divergent opinions among small countries on these issues in PP 3.2). The speaker expressed the need to gather as EU regulators.

Ewa Galewska (University of Wroclaw, Poland) joined the event via Skype. She explained how the regulation based on legislation works in communication and spoke about the EU’s initiatives to regulate the internet. She expressed the interest to see what will happen in the future and what trends will be. As for Poland, people are not prepared for such directives there. The speaker provided the example from last year when the Ministry of Digitalization published an Act on public information to adjust to new directives. She pointed out that the atmosphere was filled with criticism. In its turn, the Ministry stopped the initiatives, and there were no further steps to implement the directive. Mrs. Galewska said that it is necessary to keep in mind and respect that such bodies are not independent but politically influenced and regulation authors have no instruments in such situations.

Mrs. Rozgonyi continued raising the issue on how to protect users and there she stated the bigger role of regulators.

Mr. Kukliš replied that caring about the consumers is not enough and we need to think about democratic processes, and the services need to be more transparent.

Stefanie Fuchsloch got back to the Network Enforcement Act stating that this Act helps transparency, demonstrating which criminal offence happened. However, being regulated on two governments’ levels, media and Act implementation should be more transparent for users. The speaker also underlined that it is debatable still since there is the discussion of how some items were wrongly deleted claiming to have the right to be heard.


Munir Podumljak pointed out that justice cannot be privatized since it is against civilization principles; freedom of speech is one of these basic rules (see on this P 2.9). He also stressed the need to differentiate criminal activity and freedom of speech because users have the right to complain.

Another participant, Ivan Smieško commented that users and accounts (on social media) are not the same thing and media can sanction accounts itself. The speaker spoke about the problems to persecute a person in Slovakia and the relations between a real person and the account he has. (There is PP 2.21 document among the files prepared by COMPACT Project tackling this issue).

Mr. Kukliš replied that all the governments should be just and for the first time, there is a legal instrument that deals with users and contents. Then he moved on challenging the colleagues by saying if we are putting too many tasks on companies since, for example, Facebook is not a police. Then, he stressed the need for a hybrid solution.

Mrs. Fuchsloch agreed with her colleagues stressing that right now there are more responsibilities towards contents. On the example of Germany, she explained that there are 21 definitions of fake news used in the country. At the same time, there are many more on the EU’s level of approach and so much work is yet to be done.

Klara Szalay (Hungarian Academy of Sciences) asked about the minimum harmonization level and if there is a risk since the market in the EU is very different and the interests vary as well.

L’uboš Kukliš replied to this question by saying that it is up to regulators but now everyone is more scared of the social media.  He continued saying that there was very strong hesitation regarding regulations. Now, regulators are independent or at least should be (see material PP 3.1). But the rules are not that extensive.

Michal Hradický discussed harmonization and disagreed that it is going to be similar as it used to be with broadcasting but going to cost more. But still, there should be minimum standards everywhere. The speaker also expressed his doubt that transposition would be achieved in time; it is in the process.

Tomaš Kriššák asked what we are trying to achieve and the central role of new technological giants.

In his turn, Mr. Kukliš replied that the companies only want to make money but they change the environment at the same time, thus, the rules which can protect the environment need to be implemented.

Mrs. Galewska said she hopes the media space will not be overregulated since it is important to protect the freedom of speech.


Future trends in Social Media

Panelists (from the left side): Igor Daniš (SCM), Andrej Školkay (SCM),  Annika Linck, (discussion facilitator, The European Digital SME Alliance),  Lukasz Porwol, (National University of Ireland)


 Annika Linck (European Digital SME Alliance, Belgium) kicked off the last discussion by saying that the regulation may change the scene in the future. She also noted that social media has appeared more than 10 years ago but we are still discussing it without knowing what precisely to do regarding their regulation.

Andrej Školkay joined the discussion suggesting that regulators usually lag behind technological developments. He pointed out at the results of meta-analytical trends in social media, prepared under COMPACT Project, and the opinions of the representatives of local journalists. While the former document forecasts a need to regulate journalist, the latter representatives talked primarily on their internal issues.

Moreover, fake news and hoaxes are more present in less polarised societies and with prevailing almost monopolistic liberal media discourse. This is situation in the case of Slovakia and the Czech Republic, while both Poland and Hungary show more polarised societies as well as the media, thus there is less room for alternative media and fake news/hoaxes (except, perhaps, those produced for political purpose by some politicians themselves).

Igor Daniš (School of Communication and Media, Slovakia) stated the business model which could be a trend in the future ie. business with personal data. However, he emphasised on the need to change this model since the companies do not pay anything for data. Another problem is fake news since it began with this century and has already become a business model.

Then, Lukasz Porwol (National University of Ireland) expressed his opinion by saying that people started paying for premium accounts to avoid ads and it might become a future trend helping to deal with fake accounts, it also leads to better quality of service.

Mrs. Linck asked Mr. Porwol about the future of technologies.

Mr. Porwol replied that data will still be there but will be used in a different way. The speaker stressed that Virtual Reality is a new way of communication, companies invest in the development of Virtual Reality or even in the acquisition of them.  That will bring us new challenges too. However, he noted that the main problem to be overloaded with information for now. For example, communication is not always constructive (hate speech). Less communication but more meaning.

Mr. Školkay explained that sometimes expectations from AI are too high. He provided examples of research on how AI can be used in fake news detection and debunking. Sometimes AI as a solution can be overrated. There are missing core data that would allow the comparison of AI-based tools used in this area. In fact, it appears that those most cherished may be the least efficient tools.

Mr. Porwol stressed that communication development was always privately-driven. Companies had money and commercial incentives, so, it will never be public or the situation can end up like in China in the sense that it would be against the freedom of speech (social media credit system or social credit system).

Mr. Školkay provided the example of Mark Zuckerberg who considered last year that it will take 5-10 years to develop AI while Bill Gates is more optimistic and thinks that this process is less time-consuming.

Mrs. Linck wondered if AI can help handle fake news.

The reply followed from Mr. Porwol talked on the need to have a digital identity (not the same as personal identity) because it would solve many issues  – it will help public and commercial services to operate better.

Mr. Školkay mentioned that AI as a topic is a good inspiration for discussion but we are not yet there. Also, Mr. Porwol doubted if it is under research possibilities.

Mrs. Linck was asked to elaborate more on the issue of digital identity

Mr. Porwol pointed out that one thing is to be identified and other is to be tracked. There are some limits but still means it can be followed by commercial companies.

Mr. Školkay expressed his opinion that many lawyers underestimate the challenges of social media as well as AI and do not pay enough attention to them.

Mr. Daniš said that there is the problem of headlines since they do not correspond with what is written in the text. Igor outlined that further research should focus on the comparison of social media in the historical point of view. He questioned whether the spread of false news and hoaxes by social media is the consequence of the existence SM or the decline in the quality of journalism, and the ever-increasing lack of pluralism of opinions and news in the mainstream mass media. From the historical point of view, it would be appropriate to examine whether there is only a different form of private speech in the social media (agora, forum, church, square, street, pub etc.) and a new model of the privatization of the public sphere by the social media.

Lukasz Porwol disagreed with this idea. He said that not only there is a privatization of the public sphere, but also publishing of the private sphere.

Afterward, Mr. Školkay mentionedunder normal conditions – the limited impact of media, including social media, on political processes (see on this material P 1.4).


Nataša Slavíková disagreed that social media is a problem for journalists and asked Mr. Porwol about how Ireland is preparing for this role and if it will be cooperating with experts from all Europe

Mr. Daniš argued that social media is indeed a problem of journalists and traditional journalism is not open for other voices.

Mr. Porwol replied that responsibilities for Ireland were a surprise, but it started to work with other countries (consort with 7 countries for now) and they try to address social media providers. There is a strong sense of common responsibilities and all countries are welcome for the opinion. Only together they can elaborate comprehensive decision. He mentioned that in a recent conference in Boston (USA) there was a change of attitude and presenters, including Mark Zuckerberg, supported a more responsible approach of social media platforms. The aim is to make communication more meaningful and less extensive.

Munir Podumljak commented that anonymity was important in 1990s due to regimes that existed, so, people could say what was going on. Digital identity would not threat privacy but it is not regulated, however, we need it. Also, the speaker believed that people already live in VR since everything they do is online. But, VR requires tremendous transfer and energy capacities and we are not there yet. Then, he asked about the biggest issue with AI.  According to his opinion, it is ethics because all people are different in moral ethics and have different beliefs. He also expressed the thought that people will stop developing AI at a certain point otherwise it could become destructive.

Mr. Školkay replied that there are general concepts of ethics but the problem is among civilizations. While Asian civilisations prefer save the lives of the elderly ones in case of a car accident. Euro-American civilisation prefers the lives of kids to be saved instead. It is also an issue of standardization.

Mr. Daniš raised the question on if it is possible to limit the access of children to social media.

According to Mr. Porwol, the need for providing an ID when registering can solve this issue.

Tomaš Kriššák asked about overall literacy of media because people are not aware of it. The solutions are not as easy as it seems to us.

Mr. Porwol replied that some level of education is required and it should be introduced in the curriculum at schools and start as early as possible.

Mr. Daniš discussed the problem now removal/stop of Russia Today. Is the action of RT freedom of speech is a piece of fake news?

Mr. Podumljak argued that it is impossible to deny VR we live in it because the digital world is around us. People have the right to know who I am, they can judge, and know my position. When it comes to the news outlets there is no freedom of speech without editing. When newspapers publish content, they are responsible for it. And if it organized, it should be accountable. We cannot block Russia Today because it is Russia Today. We need the editorial judgment of what can be published and in this case, we need proper judgment whether some articles are under certain opinion or they are systematically spread fake news and they should be persecuted. But it should not come from Facebook but other bodies.

Klara Szalay commented that there is a trend of privatizing the public and private sphere. She also argued that from the economic point of view, it is an issue of monetizing data.

Mr. Porwol claimed that some things do not have to be in private but in the right hands. Some companies in its base were built on monetizing data, we cannot stop giving data since we need those services. The problem is to insure companies financially in order to go on running services.

Mr. Daniš agreed with his colleague on the threat of data misuse which can be very dangerous.

Mr. Kriššák agreed since it is important to keep those services functional and growing and if we make them weak it is going to affect us first. If those services go from Russia or China it is of vital importance to think which other ideas could be behind.

Mrs. Linck stressed that Facebook and Google dominate the market in terms of data which they collect it and it is obvious that they possess great power but luckily, they are closer to us in values, but it is still different since EU put more emphasis on privacy in comparison to its American counterpart.

Mr. Porwol reminded that (cosmic) space programs used to be private but then private entities kicked in because the economy is getting interconnected.

Mr. Podumljak stressed the monopolies and that they shall not exist. As an actor, Europe will have to play a big role because it has power.


 Who supported this event?

The Symposium was supported by Goethe Institute Bratislava, Slovak Syndicate of Journalists and Slovak Section of Association of European Journalists, within H2020 Compact CSA Project, financed by the European Union.


Minutes taken by SCM staff: JF, IL, VV and ID, proofread by Aderemi (SCM),

Photo: Tjaša Dobnik (DAT)