Iran The Latest Country To Use 'Fake News' As An Excuse For Widespread Censorship

from the be-careful-what-you-wish-for dept

Ever since people started flipping out about the so-called “fake news” problem on Facebook, we’ve been warning that this is going to lead to calls for outright censorship of certain ideas. In the US, we’ve already seen Rep. Marsha Blackburn argue that companies have some sort of obligation to make “fake” news disappear.

But even more concerning is that we’re seeing authoritarian governments jumping onto the bandwagon, knowing that they can now use the banner of “fake news” to censor all sorts of content they don’t like. A few weeks ago, China announced that it was ramping up internet surveillance efforts to “combat fake news,” and now Iran appears to be doing the same thing. The Iranian government has decided that in order to crack down on “fake news,” it’s going to expand regulations covering public news channels on the instant messaging app Telegram.

As reported by Tasnim News, a hardline news agency affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, Iranian ICT Minister Mahmoud Vaezi made the announcement at a press conference during the National Conference on Public Service. Vaezi cited the dangers ?unofficial news channels? pose in Iran’s rural and less developed regions, where fake news and misinformation have gained sizeable audiences.

Considering that people have to trust the news released on these channels, it was decided that channels with more than a certain number of members will require a license.

Minister Vaezi’s announcement builds on discussions now underway inside Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace, the country’s chief authority on Internet policy. According to Vaezi, the ICT Ministry will manage the new licenses alongside the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance ? the state agency responsible for regulating Iran’s media. Vaezi says the government will form a committee in the coming months, and news channels with more than 5,000 subscribers will be required to win the committee’s approval to continue operating legally.

So, for all of you complaining about fake news — a broad term with no real meaning, and which allows people to claim that anything they dislike, or anything with a small error in it counts as “fake news” — beware that you’re basically handing an easy tool of censorship to governments like China and Iran that have long histories of stifling any kind of dissent. “Fake news” isn’t necessarily a good thing, but freaking out about it is playing into the hands of censors worldwide.

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Comments on “Iran The Latest Country To Use 'Fake News' As An Excuse For Widespread Censorship”

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68 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Speaking of fake news

Also, the recounts that have been done so far have shown nothing and it would be nearly impossible to hack the elections since they are spread across 50 states. But yea, hacking is why they lost. Had nothing to do with putting forth the worst candidate they could possibly find. A liar, corrupt, election rigging career politician.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Speaking of fake news

Your point is? The Dems were known to have rigged their own primary, worked with the media to attempt to rig the debates and were in full cooperation with the media to rig public perception, so it is only logical to suspect them rigging the general election.

But yea, lets worry about the Russians and forget about the sins of the corrupt media and DNC.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Speaking of fake news

“The dems are corrupt from top to bottom, along with the media”

I doubt that anyone here is disputing that.

You seem to be stuck in the past reveling in the “victory” and attempting to rub other’s noses in it, it is quite the spectacle. I suggest, for your benefit, that you move on. It is what mature people do.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Speaking of fake news

“Your point is?”

The point is, the orange one was the person whining about elections being fixed. Until he won, of course, then the result was unquestionable. Until he realised he lost the popular vote, then while the EC he’d previously attacked were fine, there suddenly had to be millions of illegal immigrants voting for his opponent to make him lose.

“But yea, lets worry about the Russians and forget about the sins of the corrupt media and DNC.”

Why not worry about all of them? What is it about you that makes you incapable of dealing with more than one issue at a time? Too taxing on the little grey cells that have atrophied through lack of use? No wonder you get so easily distracted from the real issues.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Speaking of fake news

I’m not worried about the investigation or the recount. In fact, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin just certified Trump as the winner. It is the small brain of the liberal that keeps them grasping at straws, unable to understand why they lost and why they have lost 900 seats in the last8years.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Speaking of fake news

“I’m not worried about the investigation or the recount”

The issue isn’t whether you are worried about the result. The issue is whether you still trust the process. Even your leader has openly questioned it, both before and after the election he won. Is there a reason it shouldn’t continue to be discussed, and problems fixed?

“It is the small brain of the liberal”

A shame you can’t be a civil adult, but that’s to be expected it seems from those who support someone with the emotional maturity of Trump.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Speaking of fake news

Yes, I do worry about election tampering. The democrats proved they are willing to rig their own primaries and I have no doubt they would rig the general election if they could.

Funny that you are trying to take the high road now when you were the first with the insults. I threw one o.k. for fun

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Speaking of fake news

“The democrats proved they are willing to rig their own primaries and I have no doubt they would rig the general election if they could”

So… what’s the problem with making sure they can’t?

Forget about your ranting about other sites that many of the people here never use, political parties many of them don’t belong to and political systems many of them do not participate in. If you’re so concerned about one party tampering with the system, why is it a problem to ensure that nobody can?

Also, what does this have to do with the article’s subject on Iran’s censorship? You’re yet to explain what any of your comments have to do with that, even if they were objectively true.

“Funny that you are trying to take the high road now when you were the first with the insults.”

I’m sorry, I do have a habit of calling someone a partisan moron trying to derail intelligent conversation when I see them acting that way. If I’m mistaken, I take it back, but it doesn’t look like it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Speaking of fake news

Add I started, the elections should be secure, so not sure why you are fixated on out. There is no proof of actual vote count tampering, recounts show so why Chase the pipedream that the results will be overturned? Why the interest in what I say if you are on the outside? I will tell why,c liberals have no tolerance for conservative no the country.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Speaking of fake news

“Add I started, the elections should be secure, so not sure why you are fixated on out. “

You keep saying “you”, without actually specifying who you’re talking to. Do you mean me personally (I’m not), the community here or the site? if the latter, it’s a big news story with lots of allegations and a major tech angle. Why should it not be written about here?

But you still haven’t answered the question – the article you’re commenting on is NOT about the vote tampering, so why do you keep bringing it up here? There’s other threads to whine on if that’s what you need to do.

“Why the interest in what I say if you are on the outside? “

Because, no matter the result, what the US does affects the rest of the world. I take a great deal of interest in things the US do, when it will affect me and my daily life to varying degrees. Americans seem awfully interested in things that happen outside of the US when they feel it affects them in certain ways, why not the other way around?

“I will tell why,c liberals have no tolerance for conservative no the country.”

Why are self-proclaimed conservatives not only so utterly partisan, so unable to believe that anything exists except them and “liberals”, but always such whiny arrogant children about the whole thing at the same time?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Speaking of fake news

You haven’t worked out who “we” are compared to the people you’re trying to gloat at, let alone who you’re talking to.

Your choice won an election. Well done. Now, let’s see if he does a good job or not. it’s not looking good already, but he doesn’t start the job for another month.

In the meantime, stop acting like a small child because your “team” won a “game” – you’re definitely a big part of the problem with your country just for thinking like that.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:15 Speaking of fake news

“Yes, like you don’t have a team. “

I don’t, by any definition. I also can’t stand sports.

I’m sorry that the ability to think for yourself and not define yourself by a simplistic label confuses you.

“Funny how liberals are all against teams since they are losing.”

Define “liberal”. I wonder what the fantasy srtraewman in your head actually looks like, because I’m pretty sure you’re not addressing anyone who actually exists at this point.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:16 Speaking of fake news

I’m conservative and agree with PaulT on this. Partisanship is nonsense and may I remind you of what happened to Ron Paul in 2012? That was shameful, and no, before you ask I’m not Libertarian. I just hate the way democracy was kicked off a cliff to sweep Mitt Romney into pole position.

The takeaway: both parties rig their primaries in favour of the establishment-friendly character. Trump busted through that so I get the “Aww, yeah!” dance the alt-right is doing but not bowing down to the giant orange idol doesn’t make me a liberal, okay?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Speaking of fake news

“every other modern faux-liberal?”

How about you address reality or grow up rather than trolling and making up stupid meaningless words that don’t mean anything other than “waaah! not everyone agrees with me!”?

I believe the reason you feel so persecuted here is because you’re not used to stepping outside the ball pit and are confused by the need to act like you passed kindergarten. But, hey, you “nailed” me in your own mind, so why grow up, huh?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Speaking of fake news

It is the liberals who are unable to rise above. They are unable to discuss policy. Their first tactic is name calling and labeling to shut down discussion. I am just having fun with them now. If you want to I in action, wait for a post here and then post something from conservative point off view. The verbal abuse will commence immediately.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Speaking of fake news

Judging just by the words here, you posted an irrelevant attack on “you people” for things said on a different site about things not related to the discussion. You were also first, so you can’t even blame other posters for your misdirection.

That’s not a “conservative point of view”, that’s being a trolling idiot. That’s why you’re being criticised, not because you’re not one of “them”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Speaking of fake news

Yes,i am having fun trolling. Try the experiment I listed above and you will see why I am doing it now. My guess it’s you are party of the hoard and already know how conservatives are treated here and elsewhere. The verbal terrorism id’s not working anymore so a new tactic will be needed. Mauve actually discussing policy?

Wyrm (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Speaking of fake news

it would be nearly impossible to hack the elections since they are spread across 50 states

Most stupid statement ever. Given your election system, you only need to "influence" a few select states to change the outcome.
Also, you really think it’s that difficult for an organization to find how to hack 50 systems? Not to mention that "50 states" doesn’t mean "50 different systems".

So, I don’t really think Trump needed a hack to win. The system itself is rigged (electoral college system, voter suppression, gerrymandering), making voter fraud nearly pointless.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Speaking of fake news

“Do you guys really believe the Russians hacked the election? Based on the rants I see on Twitter you must”

Define “you guys”. Explain why Twitter has anything to do with the site you’re on right now. Explain what the hell Russians and hacked machines have to do with the subject of the story you’re commenting on.

Seriously, you people (ACs trying to derail every conversation with partisan bullshit) are tiresome fools.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Speaking of fake news

“You are just as bad as the safe spacers on Twitter”

Translate into English please? For the benefit of people who prefer their conversations to be over a handful of characters and so don’t use that site, what are you talking about?

“Unable to accept defeat”

Who’s been defeated, how and what the hell does that have to do with a story on the problem of Iran using “fake news” as an excuse to censor their populace. You know, the subject of the article?

If you mean the recent US election, this is an international forum with commenters of all political stripes, nationalities and locations, so many won or lost anything. Which still doesn’t relate to the subject at hand.

“Would You feel better if You Got a participation ribbon?”

Does the random capitalisation there mean anything? Anyway, why would I need something relating to participation in something I was neither part of nor eligible to take part in?

I’d rather an intelligent conversation about the subject being discussed without it being derailed by a partisan moron who can’t understand what’s being talked about but shit insists on shitting in every thread. But, we can’t all have what we want, can we?

bob says:

it's called propaganda and it's not the real problem.

The problem is not fake news. The problem is people are gullible and uninformed/uneducated people are even easier to fool. Instead of complaining about fake news the state and internet based companies should better educate their people.

The reason countries don’t better educate their people is it would be harder to hide the governments corruption if people become wiser.

It’s the same issue that the nsa and dhs have. If you want to keep an exploit to use you leave your own machines vulnerable to the same attack.

Anonymous Coward says:

TRULY Weird Things Thrive in the Dark

I run a Freenet node. It is my goal that resistant citizens of oppressor regimes have a means to communicate below any generally effective, current "radar" (yes, I know that drug cartels, terrorists, and pedophiles could be using my node – I understand where meat comes from). That said, if nations such as Iran think that "fake news" (pick your favorite definition) is bad now, just wait ’til they drive it much more completely into the "The Dark."

intrautarchy says:

Western and eastern governments and their Operation Mockingbird media have been and continue to be the greatest purveyors of fake news in the history of the world. Fake news lists deliberately conflate clearly terrible media (e.g. Antiwar.com) with reputable independent-thinking media news sources (e.g. corbettreport.com); this is done to make it seem like ALL of those sources are of the same volition and on the same side (Russia). Unfortunately for the government and mainstream media liars behind the fake news BS, the reputable independent-thinking sources in those lists have publicly and consistently critically analyzed both the NATO and BRICS nations; they’ve countered the clear bullsh*t propaganda being regurgitated by government’s deliberately planned shrinking channels of access to difficult-to-obtain information through actual research and unabridged journalism, which is partly the basis of the 1st Amendment. This “fake news” stunt is a desperate military style psychological operation (PSYOP) by those who seek to obtain an absolute syndicate monopoly over information (globalist oligarchs, DARPA’s Google, etc.) that preserve control over the narratives that people will be exposed to en masse. It has always been time to make these “government is God” ideologies obsolete. Starting at a cognitive level, we have to be the solution to “the plague of belief” that governments wish to promulgate through its specious fear mongering and flat out dishonesty. Collectivist governments want individuals to shut up and accept the truth being sacrificed. Nah, f*ck that.

“A lie lived by everyone is not the truth.”

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