Misinformation / DML Prevalence: EU
While the EU appears to be taking measures to prevent misinformation and fake news, there are also plenty of high profile events and criticism against the EU that suggest that this practice is widespread in the region. Seven articles focused on the prevalence of misinformation and digital media literacy in the EU have been presented in this spreadsheet. A summary of these findings are as follows.
PREVELANCE/AWARENESS OF MISINFORMATION
- Brussels Times has reported that previous attempts against disinformation had been hampered by the EU's commitment towards safeguarding the freedom of speech. While it has made several attempts to tackle this issue through education as well as coercion, the article states that there was still a major concern on the potential damage that the free flow of information could have on the European Parliament elections in May and had called for more decisive action from the EU.
- According to a survey conducted on behalf of the European Commission on fake news and disinformation online, more than eight in ten respondents (85%) think that the existence of fake news is a problem in their country. In each country, at least half of the respondents have stated that they encounter fake news at least once a week.
- A news article from Politico emphasizes on Europe's failure against fake news, stating that sophisticated disinformation campaigns aimed at voters heading for polls had gained strength despite EU efforts. The article further notes that the multiplication of actors has made it nearly impossible to pinpoint who is actually behind the false or manipulative messages online.
OCCURENCES OF MISINFORMATION
- Another article from Politico states that there had been a widespread Russian disinformation campaign targeted to influence the European Parliament election. This group had used digital tactics to undermine the democratic legitimacy of the EU and create anger in the public through hot-button topics.
- BBC had reported on an incident where pro-Indian fake websites and think-tanks had attempted to influence decision-making in Europe. It further states that researchers have traced back the websites to an Indian company called Srivastava Group and that the networks' purpose was to disseminate propaganda against India's neighbor and rival Pakistan.
DEMAND FOR DIGITAL MEDIA LITERACY
- According to a study conducted by the Reuters Institute, only 28% of people in the sample of 21 EU countries know that algorithms select most of what they see on the Facebook news feed. The authors have emphasized on the low awareness of the algorithms and suggests that there should be a higher focus on social media to improve digital media literacy.
WHO NEEDS DIGITAL MEDIA LITERACY
- Study findings by the European Parliamentary Research Service notes that the older generation (aged above 50) has lower than average ability to recognize factual information and remember already debunked false claims. This suggests that people of this age are likely more susceptible to believing fake news.