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!

72 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Hr Tom Mosen

    its easy – just look at who have created the article – if it bares the name of a thinktank, the EC commitee or a political party – then there are a 99% chance that its total bokus and bulls**t…

  2. avatar
    Hr Tom Mosen

    its easy – just look at who have created the article – if it bares the name of a thinktank, the EC commitee or a political party – then there are a 99% chance that its total bokus and bullshit…

  3. avatar

    it is easy to spot.
    for example every time theres an article about guns in left leaning news outlet you can be sure its full of lies and misleading stats.

  4. avatar
    Pedro Castro

    If it’s YouTube, as far as i’m concerned, it’s fake. Along with the usual suspects, RT, Sputnik, fox, etc.

  5. avatar
    Julia Hadjikyriacou

    Fake news propoganda is used by everyone. Look at Boris Johnson who lied blatantly about Brexit money going to the NHS, even advertising on a bus. And he is Britains Foreign Secretary. Fake news for web clicks, fake news for agendas by global players or players within your own ‘borders’. Plus people don’t trust the governing bodies even in the EU as it has its own agenda and omit truths instead of lying. People don’t trust old media outlets either. What a mess.

    • avatar

      You are aware that the Tories are mostly funded by Russian oligarchs?

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      Have you got some evidence to support your assertion, please?

    • avatar

      You look it up for yourself, Tarquin. Apart from commenting start researching and reading.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      I am still awaiting evidence from you that the UK Conservative party is MOSTLY funded by Russian oligarchs.

      Indeed, I looked at your citations and your point STILL appears to be INCORRECT.

      Your Tom Pride [a respected blogger] link – did not provide any stats to support your WILD claim.

      Your BBC [a not so respected news institution] link cites a figure of £1,157,433 paid by Russians to the Tory party over a period spanning c4.5 years

      Furthermore, I had a quick look at a relevant database:

      I checked the figures for the period cited in your BBC link and it looks like, over the 4.5 years mentioned, the Tory party had received donations more than double the amount cited for each and EVERY QUARTER of the 4.5 year period.

      Ergo, your WILD claim is WRONG, INCORRECT, UNTRUE and FAKE.

      Please try to be less emotional and more accurate in your postings in future as you only serve to reinforce the negative opinion many people have about pro-EU FAKE-NEWS zealots.

    • avatar

      It’s not fake, Paul. If the Conservative party is only aiming to get there donations from Russians, that would affect its policies. If you may be aware, there have been a number of suspicious deaths of Putin opponents and secret services agents in the UK, which the Conservative government has pushed for the be declared accidental etc. And its stance towards Russia during its takeover of Crimea was underwhelming. It is a very-obviously Russophile government, which if it wasn;t for Russia’s undemocratic ways, would not actually be a bad thing.

    • avatar

      Sorry, I meant to say Tarquin. Could you please also send me a link to the specific page which backs up your claims, as the one you have posted is just a general page. Thanks.

    • avatar

      Hello Tarquin, still waiting for that evidence.

  6. avatar
    Joaquim M Pinto

    Yah so tell me how do you do it. You got to laugh (suitable and controlled news for every flavour)

  7. avatar
    Mindaugas Valentukevicius

    Read a major national newspaper like RussiaToday, BBC, ABC, CNN, FOX NEWS… … and every other newspaper. That is, if you want to spot fake news.

    • avatar
      Neil Snape

      …or to put it another way. Don’t be thick👍

  8. avatar
    Ivan Burrows

    Fact check everything the mainstream media says & everything that comes out of the Brussels propaganda department should be considered fake.

    • avatar
      Dee O'brien

      This page reeks of the Brussels propaganda machine too…

    • avatar

      And the supporting evidence for this “fact” is?

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows

      That’s because the page is funded by Brussels.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      FYI Debating Europe is funded by the EU!

      Given your [often wide of the mark] comments and are YOU funded by the EU or some pro-EU entity?

    • avatar

      Ivan, that is no proof at all and you know it.

      Yes, I am funded by the EU because I live in the EU and so are you!

      The EU is the countries that comprise it and given that I am commenting in my own country in defense of it I don;t need to be funded. I am not waging a campaign on behalf of an outsider party.

      Plus, there is no specific pattern to my comments, so I am not professional, like Ivan is for example. Just read all his comments and you will see that they follow a specific structure and use a few key-words: “anti-democratic EU”, “pointless EU”, “EU federalism”. It really looks like strategic commenting. I am not just referring to content but structure and consistency. Also, there never is any elaboration. It’s just a few punch lines (like his reply to me today). The minute you start analyzing the contents of propaganda it falls apart and he seems to know that well.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      Ivan does have a valid and legitimate point, that you have yet to counter successfully.

      BTW, I am not funded by the EU – I live in the UK, a net EU contributor ==> I am funded by the UK.

      Do you work for an EU institution/organisation or for an entity wholly/partially paid for by the EU as you appear to be a pro-EU troll.

    • avatar

      Tarquin, you need to now provide evidence of the legitimacy of his claims!

      And what the UK contributes to the EU is only a fraction of what it makes out of it. As long as you live in a country member, which the UK is, you are technically speaking funded by the EU. :-)

  9. avatar
    Simeon Milanov

    Quite easy. When you spot that the article is written by Deutsche Welle, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, The Independent or other Far-Left Troskyist media, you know its fake.

  10. avatar
    Dylan Russell

    Is it news controlled by the globa.list cabal like CNN, ESPN, BBC ,SKY NEWS ,etc ? then its fake news .

  11. avatar

    how to spot fake news?
    quite easy. bbc? cnn? guardian? economist?
    its fake.

  12. avatar
    Zsolt Barczy

    Pathetic. Journalists really have no brain. Thank you for the evidence… Hint: some idiot invented this “fake news” hysteria, and about the same idiots use it for political purposes. Do these apes really think the rest of mankind is the same stupid as they are? :) Peace…

  13. avatar

    You can’t just like that. You need to be able to think for yourself. The use of paid commentators is not exaggerated because they have been found to be many and to have influenced elections. However, the only reason why they have been effective is because people are sitting at home waiting for the bait.

    Here you go. The results of official research into the matter:

  14. avatar

    “Ms Kelly said China and Russia had pioneered widespread net controls but the techniques had now gone “global”.”

  15. avatar

    Ivan Burishnikov, where are you or have you at long last been blocked?

  16. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    What a “honest & innocent” question that is!

    It is all about marketing either: oneself, themselves or other- selves.

    A to varying degree dishonest business lectured at the highest levels! Masking, twisting, exaggerating, hiding, belittle ling, shrewdness’s, sensationalizing- you name it- honest truth hardly exists anymore. Please list any exceptions if hidden in our political & consumerism paradise.

    Professional liars (“reputation management and marketing”) can be hired, are used all over, by many & everywhere! How naive must one be to believe anyone 100% nowadays?

  17. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    RT ==> Besides the odd celebrity contributor shows, mostly fake.
    EURONEWS ==> Anything to do with EU finances, mostly fake.
    EU PARLIAMENT ==> Mostly fake.
    BBC NEWS ==> Biased.
    CNN NEWS ==> Very biased.
    France24 ==> Hyper biased.
    Dail Mail ==> Biased.
    The Guardian ==> Biased.
    Daily Express ==> Biased.
    Telegraph ==> Biased.
    The Times ==> Biased.

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      My dear island friend- couldn’t you find any exception? Maybe just one please, since it’s weekend?

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @EU Reform- Proactive

    • avatar

      LOL! I really don’t think that there is an exception. Just varying degrees.

  18. avatar
    Őry Koppány

    Another option: Stop reading news papper. Probably if the journalists will start starwing, they will write correct news…Hunger is great lord….

  19. avatar
    Shaun Gibson

    This conversation is actually insane. Sure *every* news agency has it’s bias. But most mainstream media are biased (and most good ones like CNN, BBC or Sky News try to eliminate it but can’t help it) but few are outright fake. The worst I’m aware of is Fox and even then the main culprit is spin and commentary rather than the news reported.

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows

      I would generally agree with you but the fact CNN have been caught out so many times means they are the Kings of the fake news story.

  20. avatar

    Here is another video on how Russia has campaigned for Brexit:

    This is compatible with some of the comments we are seeing here: people post specific things and keep posting even after they have been debating and turned out to be with no basis… apart from the ones that blatantly don’t engage in debate but restrict themselves to posting one-line propaganda lines under dubious identities. The contents of the posts are almost identical to what come out of Russia.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      people post specific things and keep posting even after they have been debating and turned out to be with no basis…

      I hope you take notice of your own words given your propensity to factual inexactitude!

    • avatar

      I haven’t seen any instance of you having disproven any of my comments here Tarquin. Quite the opposite yours tend to be just nasty language and hatred towards groups of people, cultures etc without any facts or explanations. You are the perfect Brextard.

  21. avatar
    catherine benning

    How can you spot fake news?

    Fake news is very subtle. However, the line from the off begins with a put down, ridicule or blatant lie. Example, here is a story on the front page a so called ‘pro Brexit’ newspaper. Yet the first message it airs is, Britain is in debt to the EU. That, without doubt, the UK government owes the European Union some kind of funds. When in reality the EU owes the UK money. The slice of assets the British have within Europe, that will remain after we leave, is worth far more than the outrageous billions Barnier claims is our responsibility to pay. In reality the British tax payer has no responsibility to pay the EU anything at all. It is not in any Treaty that should we opt to leave this cult we must pay billions of our money to do so. That is absurd.

    This entire article skims along a premise of utter nonsense in order to push the despised and unelected political activists being shoved down our throats as informers of truth.

    However, this article, written purely for propaganda purposes, in order to place in the psyche of our people, begins with a ‘so called fact’ that is a total lie. This is Fake News.

    Here is another headline placed in the mind to be absorbed whilst they pretend to tell a different story.

    This is to convince us that life without the undemocratic rogues robbing us daily as club members is an inevitability. As we really must remain or we will suffer terribly outside their club. Think Mafia gangsters and the fake news they give to sell ‘protectionism.’

    The truth is, our standard of living, our cultural assets of good health services, purposeful, productive education, utilities, transport, family life, immigration balance and the requirements, etc., have deteriorated dramatically since being part of the EU and its crazy, detrimental laws. Our lifestyle has been overtaken to the point of suffocation. And remaining as part of the EU leaves no way to escape this bazaar political cynicism. Yet, not a word of that ‘fact’ escapes via our media. It is ignored or denied. And Fake News, shoved so hard at us, has become as unbearable as throbbing, decibel level heavy metal sound. It has and is maddening our citizens. Which it is intended to do.

    Here is one more example, posed as a pro UK piece. It starts off with a threat to the reader. The underlying purpose is to convince readers they are up against an enemy so powerful it is unlikely we will come out well from it. Though the fact is, we are undeniably better off as a democratic nation outside this blood sucking club. One that has already leached off us for forty odd years. How they must find it so very humorous.

    Is it working? On some yes, but the counter is, natural British rejection of an outside force telling us what we must do to make our lives better. Therefore, to the chagrin of our ‘remainers’ in government and the stultified Lords, instead of the lying story of more people coming over to the remain side, the truth is, the very opposite. Leave is winning by a landslide and they are panicking. So many of them are going to lose their wonderful EU handouts. Gentleman farmers, those on wonderful pensions, which this demand of billions of pounds from the EU is, in reality, the fat cats continual pay off after we get free.

    Of course, this is only a soupcon of what fake news and propaganda is and does, however, it gives food for thought on just how far reaching it has become.

    • avatar

      Just because you disagree with it, that doesn’t make it “fake news”…

  22. avatar
    Jose Quintans

    Everybody tries to manipulate everybody.
    For the mass media outlets we could say it in another manner, “they manufacture consent”.

    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.

    That paragraph of you reveals one of your purposes, so you don’t pass the CRAAP test for many, and you know it.

    Come on, it is scary to tell the truth.

    Remember Plato’s allegory of the cave?

  23. avatar

    Simple. If their ‘proof’ consists of youtube videos. If they talk about “immigrant invasion” ” cultural marxism” “replacement” and other Alt-RIght ( read : NEO NAZI ) code words, you got a russian agent or an useful idiot for Putler.

    Plenty of them in here.
    They just have to open their mouth.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @ Adrian

      And I suspect you are an agent of the fifth column solidly stuck in our midst.

      As a person who has difficulty speaking English, you certainly sound more of a foreigner than those who can, at very least, converse with some kind of intellect.

      Here we go with Russian agent grind. LOL Another Hilary Clinton type who feels the people they want to manipulate are complete fools who cannot think without some ‘force’ at work on their minds. Or, the excuse for being unable to get the message of destruction they want to inject, across. And do you know the reason they think that way? It’s because they have no concept of free thought. One that can see for itself, outside the box, rather than adapt and adopt a doctrine of regulated and enforced hypnosis. You are the downtrodden pawn, taught to hate your ancestry and heritage. Taught, like a caged buffoon to welcome your destruction. Without the slightest concept of what it is you are being sold. You are the Blairite and Campbell organ grinders monkey. Offer it a tit bit and it will turn a cartwheel three times hoping for another nut.

      You, thank God, are yesterdays fodder.

    • avatar

      Catherine, you’re on drugs?

    • avatar

      I am learning from you, Catherine. That’s why my English lacks clarity… Actually, I have a day job as well. This debate is not the highlight of my day. Yes, I do like Mars bars. Always have. And after following your English on here I have come to the conclusion that a litter bin is the best place for Pimsleur. You should stick with it though if you can’t afford a proper education.

  24. avatar
    catherine benning

    @ Karolina

    Good try. However, native born and bred of Viking ancestry, am I. And not only proud of it, pleased to be it.

    You, on the other hand, appear to fear declaration of who and what you are. Karolina is not British spelling. It gives you away. And education with, what do you call it, a day job? Shop floor, or, waitress?

    • avatar

      “native born and bred of Viking ancestry” LOL!

      The native populations of the British Isles are considered the descendants of the pre-historic populations, Catherine: Welsh, Cornish, Scottish, Irish etc. The Vikings were the people who attacked and robbed them… I wouldn’t be proud to be of Viking descent… but in the absence of anything else and if it makes you feel better, feel free to carry on.

      You don’t really look like who you claim to be in your photo but I am here to share opinions and not personal comments. I would never reveal any personal details about myself or my name.

      Your comment has been most useful because it shows the xenophobic and demeaning element in Brextards. Having seen your comments on here for a few months, I am pretty sure that yourself is waitress or something similar. Not that it makes any difference to me, but you seem to think that these are bad jobs…

    • avatar
      Uli Czeranka

      is this also your approach to science?

    • avatar
      Uli Czeranka

      assuming that science is wrong because its done by mainstream scientists? because thats your argumentation here.

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows

      Uli Czeranka Wow ! you deserve n EU award for such a conflated, illogical & idiotic argument. Science is based on data, analysis of the data & repeatable experiments based on the data while the ‘media’ is only the subjective ‘opinion’ of the author. Try again comrade :)

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