Norwegian Culture Minister Seeks to Prevent Big Tech From Censoring State Media
07:06 GMT 08.11.2021 (Updated: 05:41 GMT 30.04.2023)
To prevent “big and faceless” Big Tech companies from acting as gatekeepers, Anette Trettebergstuen intends to create a “whitelist” of editor-controlled outlets who should be free from “completely unreasonable intervention into media freedom”.
Norway's newly appointed Culture Minister Anette Trettebergstuen has voiced a desire to shield the national media from what she called censorship on Big Tech's part.
Earlier, posts by several media, including national broadcaster NRK, were suspended by Facebook, sparking criticism of corporate intervention into media freedom.
“The big and faceless Big Tech companies can not be gatekeepers who censor national media. This is a completely unreasonable intervention in the media's free position and role in society,” Trettebergstuen told the newspaper Aftenposten.
To remedy this, she intends to obligate Facebook and other technology giants to create a “whitelist” for media that are editor-controlled and follow a set of rules to protect integrity and shows consideration. Those included in the list should not risk being censored, according to Trettebergstuen, who hesitated to make any concrete suggestions.
“The only thing that is clear so far is that it can not be Facebook that is responsible for deciding who is to be considered an editor-controlled medium,” the minister emphasised.
By her own admission, Trettebergstuen intends to take the lead internationally to protect the editor-controlled media from Big Tech.
“When Norway takes over the chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers, this is something I want to highlight and concentrate my work on,” she said.
Reidun Nybø, Assistant Secretary General of the Norwegian Editors' Association, said that the culture minister's proposal is fully in line with the industry's wishes.
“Removal of content is not a comprehensive problem for our members today, but a big problem as a matter of principle,” Nybø mused. “There should be as objective criteria as possibles,” she said.
Veteran journalist Pål Steigan, who has dedicated a lot of his attention to the problem of Big Tech Censorship, is positive that editor-controlled media should be shielded from it, yet emphasised that it shouldn't be guided by membership in the Editors' Association.
“It can not be the case that the club should decide who is allowed to join the club and who isn't. It seems quite doubtful”, he told Aftenposten.
Facebook stressed that the company makes “difficult decisions about where the boundaries should go between freedom of expression and hate speech, privacy, security and other issues,” welcoming Trettebergstuen's initiative.
2 November 2021, 16:48 GMT
In recent years, Facebook and other social media giants have come under constant criticism for both failing to remove “fake news”, “hate speech” and incitements to violence on the one hand and resorting to downright partisan censorship on the other hand. According to Trettebergstuen, Facebook in particular shares too little about the methods and mechanisms it uses, which makes it extra difficult for politicians to intervene.
“It is obvious that they don't do enough to bring down harmful content. But the problem today is that you don't even get them talking. The first step must therefore be to demand openness and gain insight into what they are actually doing. Then we will see how this can be regulated,” she concluded.