Are Europeans more trusting of mainstream media than Americans? In Europe, roughly 80% of citizens get their news via television media, and about half say they trust TV news. In the US, however, the number of people who regularly get their news from TV is just 50% (and falling steadily) and only 24% express trust in the actual content.
Some argue that low levels of trust in mainstream media is precisely why so-called “fake news” has thrived. By that logic, then, most European countries should be less vulnerable to fake news stories than our friends in the US. There is some evidence that this is indeed the case.
Nevertheless, national governments and the European Union are taking the issue seriously. A 2016 Eurobarometer survey shows that European citizens are definitely concerned about media independence, and levels of trust in media may be high relative to the USA, but are still low overall.
The EU Commission recently launched a public consultation on fake news and online disinformation. Citizens are being encouraged to contribute their own views on the matter as the Commission ponders its response. But is there really anything the EU (and national governments) can do to prevent misinformation being spread online?Curious to know more about fake news and how to spot it? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Bart arguing that fake news is “easy to spot” as long as you do a bit of research. Is he right? Or is some of it more sophisticated than he believes?
To get a reaction, we spoke to Jakub Janda, Head of the Kremlin Watch Program and Deputy Director of the European Values think-tank in Prague. What would he say?
We also had a comment from Karolina, who suspects some people are being paid to spread propaganda by the Russian government. Is that fair? Certainly there have been reports of Russian “troll factories” online, but is their reach exaggerated?
Finally, we had a comment from Stefano, arguing there should be laws against spreading fake news online. There are already national laws against libel, slander, and spreading harmful disinformation, so is it more a question of enforcement?
How can you spot fake news? Is it easy to spot? And should there be laws against creating it or spreading it online? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!