The war in Ukraine confirms the old saying of a great Athenian playwright from the fifth century BC. We’re talking about Aeschylus. The author states that in an armed conflict, the first major sacrifice is the truth. And how to blame him? It is difficult to understand what the real course of hostilities is.
Still, as alleged by Francesca Mannocchi, sent to the Ukrainian front on behalf of La7 “The images of destruction as well as the words of the people who suffer are the only balm of truth”. A position, that of the chronicler, that nevertheless – no matter how divisible – does not change the smokescreen that hangs over reality, a tad. Often the images of tortured civilians – especially the youngest – are used for propaganda purposes. We need to stop for a moment on this issue.
It is clear that there is an invading army and an invaded country. This premise is mandatory and makes all the difference in the world. On the other hand, it is equally clear that there is an Atlantic propaganda that is in opposition to the Kremlin (mainly consisting of lunar distortions and fake news). Journalists have often exploited suffering without asking too many questions about the possibility of spreading certain images. It is no coincidence that we speak, and with some knowledge of the facts, of the pornography of pain.
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The horrors of war in the age of social media
It may be that the war in Ukraine is perceived with greater emotion, precisely because it is a conflict being fought in the heart of Europe, it may be that the war in the age of social media opens up dystopian perspectives on the perception of obscene, but there is something to make a general premise. Digitization has made the horrors of weapons spectacular for years. And there are countless testimonies from journalists – more or less directly – who almost “push” each other to be the first to arrive at the crime scene and immortalize the corpses destroyed by mortar fire. Recordings are immediately put on the front page the next day.
It is clear that the argument lends itself to multiple interpretations. On the one hand, there are those who argue that in wartime no limits should be set, that it is right to show any image and then leave the appropriate considerations to the viewer. Following these lines are those who confirm the concept by borrowing a news story.
The first days of the conflict in Ukraine: A poor civilian on the run can not contact his family and discovers, thanks to some photos posted on social media, that his loved ones have been murdered in an armed raid. He recognized the lifeless bodies. And it’s hard to believe that the survivor’s first feelings were related to a violation of the right to privacy. Here, social media in this sense, no matter how cruel they are, have played a social role. They helped extinguish the vain hopes of the man who looked at his cell phone in hopes of a ring. A ring that would never come …
On the other hand, the Guarantor of the protection of personal data intervened with extreme severity and put forward arguments of the opposite sign. The authority has made a very heartfelt appeal to the Italian media. All to protect accurate information. But let’s take a step back.
Journalists are already bound by rules (rules that prejudge the provisions of GDPR and from new privacy code), which protects minors. We are talking about Treviso charter, a collection of ethical rules laying down the rules for the processing of information on minors. In truth, the Charter has been rebuilt several times and adapted to the changing needs of society, a society that today – precisely because of digitalisation – is profoundly different from 30 years ago.
All the privacy laws, the guidelines of the judicial bodies and the Guarantee Authority, many tools to ensure that you comply with all the requirements: practical guides, comments, magazines, action plans, checklists, formulas, news.
The Treviso Charter and the Code of Ethics for the Protection of Minors
In short, the Charter prohibits the publication of images that may identify minors or, more generally, may create prejudice against their dignity and confidentiality. Furthermore, this set of rules prohibits the use of images of minors for sensational purposes (the same ones that, in principle, can exploit the person for editorial purposes). Therefore, any harmful publication focusing on the identity of the minor is prohibited.
These concepts are confirmed by the guarantor himself. On the other hand, publishing pictures of the minor is considered permissible if they portray him in calm situations, which confirms a significant well-being (provided there are contextual interests attached to the right to print). For example, publishing pictures of disabled minors engaged in sports reviews is not prohibited. And it is clear, in the light of these premises, that reasoning about the horrors of war, the idea of offering the reader the death of a minor trying in vain to escape from the fire of the enemy, is not acceptable.
L ‘Article 7 of the Code of Ethics for Journalists states that “The minor’s right to privacy must always be considered as primary with regard to the right to criticism and news”. The law therefore follows a principle of precedence over the minor’s interest over the press right. The Code refers its regulation to the above Treviso charter.
Lintervention by the guarantor for the protection of abused minors in Ukraine
With the proliferation of tragic images, many of which depict children, the Privacy Guarantor intervened by repeating the restrictions imposed on print media when it comes to children.
This is an appeal, which is probably the sum of the concepts analyzed during the course of this study. In particular, the guarantor asks to stop the spread of photographs that show “Children’s desperate faces on TV, in newspapers and on social networks”so avoid bringing the little ones to war – another time – in the digital dimension.
This is the warning that the Privacy Officer addresses to the media, to large content sharing platforms and to every single user of social networks. “The image of the child as any personal data relating to it – reminds the authority of – in fact, it should only enter the media system when it is indispensable, or better yet, only when publication is in the best interests of the child. “.
The authority also dwells on the consequences of ruthless publication and clarifies that otherwise these photographs and data, in the digital dimension, will haunt these children forever and may in many cases expose them to discriminatory consequences of a social, cultural, religious or political of any kind, consequences, perhaps today, in many cases even unpredictable. And of course, these images will end up being led to algorithms of all kinds for the most diverse reasons.
To avoid further pain, the Guarantor calls on all mass media, despite the indispensable work of witnessing the tragic effects of the war, for greater protection of minors.
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