A new report from the European Commission presents advice on how to counter fake news and disinformation spread online.
In January 2018, the European Commission set up a high-level group of experts (the HLEG) to advise on policy initiatives to counter fake news and disinformation spread online.
The report, which was released in March, is titled ”A multi-dimensional approach to disinformation” and starts from a shared understanding of disinformation as a phenomenon that goes well beyond the term "fake news". Disinformation as defined in the report includes all forms of false, inaccurate, or misleading information designed, presented and promoted to intentionally cause public harm or for profit.
No simplistic solutions
The HLEG recommends a multi-dimensional approach, resting on five pillars designed to:
- enhance transparency of the digital information ecosystem;
- promote media and information literacy to counter disinformation and help users navigate the digital media environment;
- develop tools for empowering users and journalists to tackle disinformation and foster a positive engagement with fast-evolving information technologies;
- safeguard the diversity and sustainability of the European news media ecosystem, and
- promote continued research on the impact of disinformation in Europe to evaluate the measures taken by different actors and constantly adjust the necessary responses.
Short- and long-term recommendations
Any form of censorship, either public or private, should clearly be avoided. The HLEG's recommendations aim instead to provide short-term responses to the most pressing problems, and longer-term responses to increase societal resilience to disinformation in the long run.
The short-term responses are designed to, for example, foster transparency and algorithm accountability, while contributing to empower users and journalists. The longer-term response instead refers to, for example, improve the media and information literacy in Europe.
The Eurobarometer on fake news and online disinformation: In March 2018, the first results of a Eurobarometer on disinformation online were presented. The survey was conducted via telephone interviews early February in all EU Member States. Over 26,000 citizens were interviewed about their perception of fake news and their trust in news media sources. The first findings show a clear concern for the spread of disinformation online in Europe. Read the first results here.
MIA JONSSON LINDELL