EU Approach: Fighting Disinformation with Information

Denisa Chvojkova, Leonard Kamps, Lan YANG, Anna Zimniak, Margherita Contro, Marcello De Giorgi, Rituparna Banerjee, Anna Mazur, Adrianna Adamczak

When people hear about fake news they think about famous examples like Pope Francis endorsing Donald Trump. However, it is not just that. An information disorder in the public discourse with significant implications on how democracies think, feel and vote for their representatives has been growing in Europe. The EU takes measures but merely scratches the surface. This blogpost shows that disinformation is a symptom of deeper underlying issues affecting contemporary societies in Europe.

The EU defines disinformation as “verifiably false or misleading information that is created, presented and disseminated for economic gain or to intentionally deceive the public, and may cause public harm.” This definition comprises two core elements: falseness and the intention to deceive. Fake news (false stories mimicking real news) is just one variation of disinformation.

A recent Eurobarometer opinion poll has found  85% of European citizens perceive disinformation as a problem in their country and 83% as a problem for democracy in general. The most prominent example of the toxicity of disinformation is its interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Moreover, disinformation is said to have changed election results in at least 18 countries.

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Media audiences across the world doubt if the public is resilient against disinformation (63%) or if they themselves can recognise trustworthy media outlets (59%)

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Being Responsible in the Age of Fake News

Catalina Barja, Elizabeth Castillo, Darya Chernokova, Alfonso Alonso Herrera, Hande Karasu and Sangam Silpakar

The internet revolution and the rise of Web 2.0 have not only disrupted society with abundance of information but also have empowered citizens by allowing them to participate in content generation process. Users are no longer passive participants of media. They not only create contents but reach millions of other people by self-mass communication through social networking sites. Unfortunately, such freedom has caused interference in the flow of information through the distribution of fake news.

Although the existence of fake news can be traced back to 1439 in the name of yellow journalism and propaganda, the term gained its popularity due to the US Presidential election in 2016. During this period, false news across the political spectrum gained more visibility in social media. A survey conducted by Eurobarometer in all the European Union member states in 2018 shows that online media users encounter more fake news than traditional media users. While the term ‘Fake News’ is believed to be a populist term, the High-Level Expert Group (HLEG) formed by the European Commission to tackle fake news has instead termed it ‘online disinformation’. Nevertheless, in a democratic era where everyone’s opinion is valued, who is to define what is true and false, as “one man’s fake news is another’s truth-telling”.

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Unconscious Writers, Unconscious Readers: Democracy Endangered

Lien Verstraeten, Jara Dichas, Melisa Zelaya & Robert Saura

On 12 January 2017, the European Parliament assessed a draft resolution relating to the regulation of automation and robots. However, until today, the EU has not implemented such legislation.

In a continuously changing digital era, the EU has mainly been focussing on protecting EU citizens; in 2016, the Union succeeded in approving the GDPR. The directive was designed to harmonise data privacy laws across the EU and to protect EU citizens’ data privacy.

“Greater efficiency can free up reporters from mundane tasks, but it can also warp what journalism is and what we want it to be”                    Carlson, 2018

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