Many people consider fake news and disinformation a threat to democracy. According to a poll conducted in 2018, 85% of the participants see fake news as a problem in their country. Social media plays an important role as a news source for many European citizens. At the same time, it serves as an easy and fast way to spread fake news. Sharing content without reading it is common practice on social media platforms. Six out of ten items are shared without being read.
Every citizen and internet user can be a fact checker and can help to spot and debunk fake news and misinformation. This is especially important now, shortly before the European elections. If you want to know, what Europe does for amateur-fact checkers, click here. The European Parliamentary Research Service gives the following eight tips on how to deal with news and information:
The recent attempts by different players to meddle in national elections and to divide people over social media have prompted the European Union to react to the growing exposure of citizens to disinformation. In 2015, for example, a small team, called the European External Action Service had been set up to debunk and collect pro-Kremlin and anti-EU disinformation in an archive.
In 2017, the Digital Commissioner Mariya Gabriel gathered experts to receive advice on this matter. This resulted in the recommendation to improve media and information literacy, media tools for users and journalists, and a diverse and sustainable European news media. Furthermore, the European Union is part of a project called InVID. InVID is a toolkit that helps journalists and citizens to check videos and images for accuracy and authenticity.
If you want to learn more about what has been done regarding this issue, check out these Commission’s press releases from December 2018 and April 2019. Watch this video to find out how the European Parliament discusses fake news and hate speech:
A Europe that Protects: The EU steps up action against disinformation. European Commission – PRESS RELEASES – A Europe that Protects: The EU steps up action against disinformation. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-6647_en.htm. Accessed May 16, 2019.
Bentzen N. How to spot when news is fake . ttps://www.europarl.europa.eu. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2017/599386/EPRS_ATA(2017)599386_EN.pdf. Published March 2017. Accessed May 16, 2019.
Disinformation Cases. EU vs DISINFORMATION. https://euvsdisinfo.eu/disinformation-cases/. Accessed May 16, 2019.
Fake news and online disinformation. Digital Single Market – European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/fake-news-disinformation. Published December 11, 2018. Accessed May 16, 2019.
Fake news: how to counter misinformation | News | European Parliament. Fake news: how to counter misinformation | News | European Parliament. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/eu-affairs/20170331STO69330/fake-news-how-to-counter-misinformation. Published April 10, 2017. Accessed May 16, 2019.
Iate. https://iate.europa.eu/entry/result/3574878/en. Accessed May 16, 2019.
Parliament E. Fake News and Hate Speech: How to Fight the War Online? YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQf0gJZGbnA. Published April 7, 2017. Accessed May 16, 2019.
What Europe does for me. What Europe does for me – #EUandME. https://what-europe-does-for-me.eu/en/portal/2/N10. Accessed May 16, 2019.
What Europe does for me. What Europe does for me – #EUandME. https://what-europe-does-for-me.eu/en/portal/2/N09. Accessed May 16, 2019.
Written by Annemarie Menger – Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master’s Program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a teacher’s degree in the form of the First German State Examination for Elementary Education, a BA in Cultural Basic Skills and an additional degree in Global Systems and Intercultural Competence from the University of Würzburg.