The EU is tackling an “infodemic” of coronavirus misinformation. From fake cures to people trying to burn down 5G towers, false information can have real-world consequences. Indeed, the European Commission has accused China and Russia of spreading COVID-19 misinformation as a way to destabilise Europe.

What do our readers think? We had a comment come in from Corinne, who quotes approvingly the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) as having said: ‘Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as dangerous’. Is that right? And, if so, why is fake news so dangerous?

To get a response, we spoke to Daniel Braun, Deputy Head of Cabinet for EU Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová. His portfolio includes countering disinformation and ‘fake news’, so what would he say?

Next up, we had a comment from Antonio, who thinks “we should invest in education for the next generation. In this way, they will be ‘immunised’ from these types of propaganda.” Ultimately, is media literacy the only effective way to fight misinformation?

We put Antonio’s comment to Lia Quartapelle, a Member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies with the centre-left Democratic Party (and one of Friends of Europe’s European Young Leaders). She was speaking at an online event held by the Atlantic Council and Friends of Europe on the impact of foreign information operations in Europe. What would she say to Antonio?

Is ‘fake news’ putting lives at risk? Why is fake news so dangerous? And is media literacy the only effective way to fight back against online propaganda? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

16 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Yes the BBC should be closed down for it in the UK

  2. avatar

    EU governments have been the champions of misinformation: “mask is not useful” mask is compulsory” testing is not useful…. It is just an influenza…

  3. avatar

    Lives, economies, societies, countries…

  4. avatar

    Biggest danger of fake news comes from EU media, and no one is monitoring them… EU only looks for “fake media” in Russian media, but in the end the apple is rotten in its core.

  5. avatar

    Of course it is. There is no wonder that lying is incriminated in all cultures and seen as a negative act.

  6. avatar
    Return to the 80s movement

    Depends what do you call Fake news in first place. Is mainstream media not fake news?

    • avatar

      Lord help me with this one

  7. avatar

    Is the real problem false information, or frustrated, frightful and uneducated people? If it is possible to destabilise a country by spreading a rumour that vaccines come with secret microchips and telephone companies are plotting to turn the Earth into a microwave oven, perhaps it’s best to acknowledge that most of the problem lies with the people of that country rather than the information.
    Anyone can spin a tall tale, but it remains a responsibility of functional adults to distinguish fact from fiction, and plausible from implausible. It can’t be done for them – that is the purview of totalitarian regimes.
    What we have is an epidemic of functionally and scientifically illiterate grown children who are incapable of that. That creates a fundamental danger to our democracies. Democracy cannot survive mass stupidity and an infantile electorate.

  8. avatar

    ‘Fake news’, maybe; stupidity, for sure!

  9. avatar

    Yes, we need critical thinking skills to be taught in society. However, censorship and fake news labels just make people suspicious. All subjects people have concerns about must be fully addressed objectively, transparently, truthfully and without ridicule. The EU, Government’s and mainstream media do not do this. This kind of behaviour from elected authorities and supposed trusted media sources just makes the whole situation worse. For example let me pick a touchy subject. Vaccines. People have genuine valid concerns about rushed pandemic vaccines which have not been safety tested for the full five years. There are genuine vaccine injuries, especially the rushed pandemic swine flu vaccine. Many of the covid-19 vaccines are also using experimental RNA technology. So when authorities label people with valid concerns as ‘anti-vaxxers’ and Facebook CEO publicly admitted to Congress that he fixes Facebook algorithms against any search terms with the negatives of vaccines, then this just causes greater suspicion, lack of trust in authoritative bodies and media.

  10. avatar

    is that a question? come on.
    maybe its not highlighted before… no wait, there is a collection of essential rules. 10 of them, as I remember.
    it says: never give false testimony.. or something..
    did someone think about, why this statement has been mentioned, shortly after the rule about killing?

  11. avatar

    Looking at how few people attend the “corona madness” demonstrations in Europe, abd looking at who actually attends these demonstrations, I have a feeling this group of non-believers may be vanished sooner than covid-19.

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