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.