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Begaim Usenova: Social media - last refuge of freedom of speech for journalists

The head of Media Policy Institute, Begaim Usenova, noted during a panel discussion at the 24th Central Asia Media Conference in Bishkek that the media in Kyrgyzstan have certain problems with Meta company.

Earlier, the editors of Govori TV and Kaktus.Media, Kaiyrgul Urumkanova and Natalya Timirbayeva, noted that they regularly face blocking of their resonant content on Facebook and Instagram due to complaints from representatives of the troll factory, which, according to journalists, is patronized by the head of the presidential press service Daiyrbek Orunbekov.

«Social media are not just some kind of auxiliary means for dissemination of materials for our journalists, they are, indeed, the last refuge of freedom of speech. We also agree with the thesis that social media should be held accountable,» Begaim Usenova replied.

Professor at the University of Vienna Krisztina Rozgonyi, in turn, noted, answering questions about artificial intelligence and methods of countering it, that this is really a threat. She added that GPT chat is banned in some countries.

As for the questions about blocking in Meta, she acknowledged that this is indeed a problem. Another question is how to solve it. Social media moderators, according to the algorithm, respond to complaints.

The participants of the panel discussion also added that Kyrgyz journalists are probably the only ones in Central Asia who actively fight against bots on social media.

Earlier, the Minister of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy of the Kyrgyz Republic Altynbek Maksutov said that fakes pose a threat in Kyrgyzstan and in Central Asia as a whole.

«Fake information poses a threat to national and information security, as well as social stability. The countries of Central Asia should join forces to combat inaccurate and false information,» the official added.

He noted that «Kyrgyzstan will continue to implement a set of measures to strengthen freedom of speech.»

According to the law of Gulshat Asylbayeva «On Protection from False (Inaccurate) Information», the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy blocked the website of Radio Azattyk at the end of October 2022. The reason was the video material by Current Time media outlet (a subordinate structure of Azattyk Media) about an armed clash on the border with Tajikistan. Later, the Ministry of Culture filed a lawsuit for the complete cessation of Azattyk’s activities in Kyrgyzstan. In April 2023, the Leninsky District Court of Bishkek, by its decision, terminated the activities of Azattyk Media institution.