In their declaration adopted on March 3, 2017, international bodies concerned with freedom of expression - including the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media - addressed recommendations to counter the growing prevalence of disinformation, fake news and propaganda in both legacy and social media, fuelled by both States and non-State actors. Considering the serious threat posed to the public’s right to know, the declaration invites all relevant actors - states, intermediaries, media, journalists and civil society – to adopt tailored measures to counteract the spread of “fake news”.


States have a positive obligation to promote a free, independent and diverse communications environment including “media diversity, which is a key means of addressing disinformation and propaganda”. The declaration addresses in particular the role of the States in establishing a clear regulatory framework

that protects media against political and commercial interference; in “ensuring the presence of strong, independent and adequately resourced public service media”, as well as in providing “subsidies or other forms of financial or technical support for the production of diverse, quality media content”.

At the same time, the fight against “fake news” cannot result in unnecessary limitations of freedom of expression: States should limit technical controls over digital technologies such as blocking, filtering and closing down digital spaces, as well as any efforts to “privatise” control measures by pressuring intermediaries to take action to restrict content.

The declaration equally stresses the importance of rules prohibiting undue concentration of media ownership and promoting transparency about their ownership structures.

Media literacy, as a key tool to strengthen the public’s ability to discern, should be actively supported by public authorities.


The declaration reaffirms the responsibility of intermediaries as key actors in enabling responses to disinformation and propaganda, stressing that content restriction by intermediaries should only be based on objectively justifiable criteria and implemented through clear, transparent policies.

Media and journalists

Media outlets and journalists are encouraged to adopt and support effective systems of self regulation fostering accuracy in the news. Adequate coverage of the phenomena of “fake news”, disinformation and propaganda is a crucial contribution to increase public awareness about this issue.

Tags: Fake news and disinformation Freedom of expression Media pluralism Propaganda Public broadcasting Media literacy Censorship
Publication Date: 02/03/2017