Asserting that ‘fake news’ is driving populism, Giovanni Pitruzzella told the Financial Times the internet must not be allowed to remain a “wild west”.
The head of Italy’s competition body since 2011, he said the speed at which so-called fake news is censored “is a critical element”, and argued that such a task should be tackled by the state, and not be left to social media companies.
Mr. Pitruzzella said countries in Europe should set up independent bodies which could quickly remove ‘fake news’ and impose fines. These would be coordinated by Brussels, and modeled on how the EU regulates competition.
“Post-truth in politics is one of the drivers of populism and it is one of the threats to our democracies,” Mr. Pitruzzella said.
“We have reached a fork in the road: we have to choose whether to leave the internet like it is, the wild west, or whether it needs rules that appreciate the way communication has changed. I think we need to set those rules and this is the role of the public sector.”
Allies of Matteo Renzi, the former prime minister, have complained that fake news contributed to his defeat in the December referendum on constitutional reform, even though he lost by a wide 20-percentage point margin. The outcome of the vote was a huge victory for populists and a blow to the EU.
While he welcomed measures recently announced by Facebook to counter “fake news”, the antitrust chief said it’s “not the job of a private entity to control information.
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