State control over bloggers: is it necessary to adopt a new law or will the old ones also work?

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State control over bloggers: is it necessary to adopt a new law or will the old ones also work?
State control over bloggers: is it necessary to adopt a new law or will the old ones also work?
15 June, 17:54
The activities of bloggers in Russia may be regulated. Alexander Tochenov, executive secretary of the Presidential Human Rights Council, spoke about the need to introduce regulation of the activities of bloggers in Russia. What's new in this regard may appear in social networks, found out "NI".

Irina Mishina

Recently, several high-profile scandals have been associated with bloggers. Suffice it to recall the story of Veronika Belotserkovskaya , also known as Belonika: she was arrested in absentia by the Basmanny Court of Moscow. The blogger is accused of spreading fake news about the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. If Belotserkovsky is detained or extradited to Russia, she will be taken into custody for two months. A scandal is also brewing with Yuri Dud * (included in the register of media-foreign agents): a YouTube blogger sued the Russian Ministry of Justice due to the lack of notification that he was recognized as a foreign agent.

Are not all equal before the law?

Scandals break out on the network every day - both in connection with statements about the special operation, and, as they say, out of the blue. Many officials react to this painfully, often it comes to the courts.

“I was the first convicted blogger. In 2013, I was sued by an FSB officer, against whom I collected dirt because of corruption. A criminal case was initiated against me under Article 128, part 1 - an insult to honor and dignity. The case was finally closed, I was rehabilitated. My case was handled by the Supreme Court. When the investigators analyzed the materials, it turned out that I have a total of more than 50 million views in social networks per day, which is much more than the audience of modern Russian media. By the way, the person on whom I collected compromising evidence and made it public was eventually fired, he lost the process. If a blogger is investigating and breaking the law, he should be tried. But it makes no sense to simply limit the work of bloggers whose audience is comparable to the media, ” blogger and journalist Maxim Novikovsky told NI.

There are thousands of millionaire bloggers in the networks. And their audience really often exceeds the audience of some media. But the question arises: who is considered a blogger? After all, the same deputy chairman of the Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev , has millions of subscribers in social networks, and Dmitry Anatolyevich is not shy in expressions. Suffice it to recall his post on June 7 in Telegram, in which the ex-president of Russia speaks of “bastards and geeks” who “want the death of Russia.” So far, there have been no sanctions against Medvedev for this post.

“A blogger with over 5,000 subscribers already meets the demands of the media. I believe that one must be responsible for one's actions both in life and in networks, - Alexander Tochenov, executive secretary of the HRC under the president , told NI. - Why in life a person is responsible for an offense under the Criminal Code, but in networks he can afford anything? There must be ethical standards. Perhaps it would be logical to establish such a body for the regulation of ethical standards under the Union of Journalists. Pavel Gusev, editor-in-chief of Moskovsky Komsomolets, chairman of the HRC media commission, is on my side regarding the regulation of the activities of bloggers.”

"I don't think it's necessary to answer!"

… I remember the work of the Commission on Ethics, which for some time existed under the Union of Journalists of Russia. As a rule, it was limited to internal discussion, and the "heroes of the occasion" most often did not appear at the meetings. Once this Commission of respected people summoned Sergey Dorenko to its meeting, but he preferred to retort to this right on the air with the words: “Here some pygmies are trying to accuse me of something. I don't feel the need to answer them."

Mikhail Fedotov, one of the co-authors of the Russian media law, led this commission. Today Mikhail Alexandrovich says:

“The Law on Mass Media should be gradually transformed into the Law on Mass Communications. But this must be done very carefully. Otherwise, we will allow the house that was built 30 years ago.” At the same time, Mikhail Fedotov believes: "The norms of ethics are observed only by those who have a conscience."

Today there is a Public Collegium for Press Complaints, which includes 50 authoritative journalists and public figures.

“Of course, there are complaints from the “grandmothers” about Malakhov’s programs, but there are also real complaints. For example, there was a complaint against Vladimir Pozner, who offended the Chinese by saying that they have “narrow eyes”. Vladimir Vladimirovich then apologized. That is, this structure works. In general, there have been attempts to somehow “structure” bloggers for a long time, but I don’t see much point in this. The way out can be simple: you can make media out of the largest blogs and YouTube channels. But how are we? Bloggers want to have the rights of journalists, but they don't want to have their responsibilities. That is, to present two points of view on the problem, to check the information thoroughly, to approve the materials so as not to distort the meaning, to follow ethical standards. Today, in fact, no one is engaged in blogging. And who and what, in fact, to do? 95% of thousands of bloggers write about what they bought, how they ate, some kind of jokes. This cannot be taken seriously. Of course, there are bloggers who write and speak on serious topics - for example, YouTuber Alexei Pivovarov * (recognized as a foreign agent), Leonid Parfyonov ... But there are only a few of them. Here, perhaps, it makes sense to work with them, offering them to register as mass media, ” Vladimir Solovyov, chairman of the Union of Journalists of Russia, told NI.

Keep your audience at all costs

In the world, too, there is still no practice of working with bloggers with thousands and millions of people. Everything is decided, as a rule, within the framework of litigation. Indicative for the blogosphere is the story of blogger Belle Gibson from Australia, who blogged about a healthy lifestyle on Instagram* (an extremist organization banned in Russia), where she claimed that thanks to clean eating and regular sports, she was able to defeat several types of oncology. The girl said that she had tumors of the liver, spleen and uterus, and she treats them with the help of a healthy lifestyle. Gibson published a book, held promotions, became famous. The blogger promised to send a quarter of the proceeds from book sales to charity and said she had already transferred $300,000 to foundations. However, during the check it turned out that the girl came up with the diagnoses, and appropriated the funds for herself. The federal court in Melbourne ordered blogger Gibson to pay a $410,000 fine and her book was withdrawn from sale. Gibson's account from Instagram* (an extremist organization banned in Russia) was also deleted. There are hundreds of stories like this. And so far there is only one remedy against them: the law.

The Council of Federations confirmed to NI that today the main instrument against violations in the blogosphere is the current legislation. In addition, the Chamber of Regions is working on regulating the observance of ethical standards on the Internet.

“By limiting the rights of bloggers, it is necessary to give them some bonuses. For example, to introduce journalists into the presidential pool, ”suggests blogger-thousander Maxim Novikovsky . But if the president agrees with this ...

In the meantime, cooperation with bloggers seems to be gradually getting better. The Ministry of Education supported the idea of creating a new structure - a council of blogger teachers. According to the ministry, the Ministry's Public Council has already approved this initiative. The council of blogger teachers will include 20 experts with an audience of over 1,000 people in various social networks (VKontakte, Yandex.Zen, Telegram, Yandex.Q, Odnoklassniki and others). Opinion leaders will contribute to the dissemination of information about the work of the department and what is happening in the field of education.

But in general, there are not so many prospects for the blogosphere in Russia today. Rambler reports a drop in interest in social networks and a decrease in their audience in recent years. For example, YouTube video hosting has lost more than 20% of authors from Russia, social networks Instagram* (listed in the list of resources banned in Russia) and TikTok are also rapidly losing their Russian audience. “The main figure of today’s observation is a 21% drop in the number of active Russian-speaking YouTube authors from February 24 to April 20, 2022. And this is despite the blocking that has not yet taken place. TikTok lost the largest share of authors during the specified period. The fall of authors was 87%, content - 93%. In second place in terms of the share of authors who left is Instagram* (included in the list of resources banned in the Russian Federation), which lost 56% of active authors and 55% of content, ” the Brand Analytics study says.

So for bloggers today, in the first place, the task is to keep the audience. And to solve this problem, ethical standards are not a hindrance ...

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