Large majority of writers fear censorship and 'fake news'

Large majority of writers fear censorship and 'fake news'

More than 80% of writers are concerned about censorship and ‘fake news’, according to the “alarming” findings of a study by PEN International.

Authors Paul Auster, Svetlana Alexievitch, Madeleine Thien and Andrei Kurkov will debate these issues along with more than 200 PEN members from across the world for the campaigning organisation’s 83rd congress in Lviv, Ukraine.

Of the 228 international writers surveyed by PEN International, more than 81% believe that ‘fake news’ and censorship have become increasing concerns over the course of the last year. Furthermore, around 87% believe that combating racism and xenophobia, born out of these factors, is central to their roles as writers.

At the ‘Reclaiming Truth In the Age of Propaganda’ conference, running from 18th September to 22nd September, writers from 30 countries will discuss the obstacles to freedom of expression.

PEN International’s president, Jennifer Clement, believes the survey’s findings reveal that the “space for free expression is shrinking”.

“The revelations of this survey are alarming and demonstrate the increasingly difficult and challenging circumstances under which writers practice their profession," she said. "With the increase of populism, the proliferation of fake news and widespread censorship around the globe, the space for free expression is shrinking.

“We must all come together and resist the erosion of this fundamental human right because we see time and again that where free expression rights are violated, other rights violations inevitably follow.”

In May PEN launched a campaign to support writers who have experienced forced displacement or are living in exile called "Make Space", supported by literary figures such as Stephen Fry, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie.