Dear Chairperson, dear colleagues,

I want to thank Mr Frithjof SCHMIDT for a timely and important report.

When the internet was commercialised in the early 90s, it offered huge advantages. Twenty years later different social media platforms and communication services gave us an opportunity for active interaction. Internet has made the world more accessible. Moreover, it has eased access to knowledge and information. However, not all of it represents the truth. This is a double-edged sword, which is well addressed in the report.

Although technology and internet were developed to strengthen our democracy by creating new forms of participation and influence, it is clear that there are threats and risks associated with the amount of false information online. Even more challenging is the lack of understanding among voters and consumers on how algorithms control what you see and hear online based on your online activity. Data is the new gold and has become extremely valuable for targeted marketing.

The Finnish Future Fund Sitra traced data in a study and revealed how easily and meticulously users are profiled. Marketers and politicians target their messages, creating narrow perceptions of reality. If political campaigns are led by unverified and very targeted and narrow information, how can we consider the parliamentary elections and referendums valid if the voters have been misled by falsehoods? We as politicians have a huge responsibility. One recent and sad example was the Brexit campaign.

Mr Frithjof SCHMIDT raises important aspects in his report. I think education is the key and I hope you all include media literacy in school curricula. Finland has decided to put emphasis on critical thinking and different types of reading skills, including media literacy. We also need more training for teachers, parents and all web users.

Even a critical person can’t control what content ends up in their feed. We must be aware that it is impossible to be fully protected from marketing.

Therefore, we must develop technology to help expose false information.

In addition we all have a moral responsibility to do the same. I warmly welcome social media groups who engage in verifying sources. This is an extremely important job on a grass-root level.

I warmly support the draft resolution.