How can European citizens help fight disinformation? Disinformation (i.e. deliberately deceptive information) and misinformation (i.e. unintentionally false information) threaten social cohesion and increase polarisation and extremism. Citizens feel a sense of exclusion from decision-making processes, look for easy solutions to complex problems and express their frustrations both online and offline (sometimes – such as during the 2021 Capitol riot – in ways that put the functioning of healthy democracies at risk).

In order to explore some solutions to the problem of disinformation, Debating Europe launched a series of focus groups to explore people’s attitudes towards disinformation as a threat to democracy.

Want to learn more about some of the ways to counter disinformation and misinformation? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

What do our readers think? We picked five comments from our recent post on disinformation and “post-truth”. First up, we had a comment from Tom asking:

Who decides what is disinformation?

Second, we had a comment from Yonglin, pointing out that some disinformation is produced by state actors, such as Russia. He says:

People need to learn to recognize [propaganda] when they see it.

Next up, Meg is very critical of social media platforms for failing to tackle false information. She says:

Social media outlets COULD have done the responsible, honorable thing in the first place by policing these lying, propaganda-spreading, conspiracy mongers from the very start instead of waiting until [they] nearly overthrew the American government.

Next, a comment came in from Jim saying:

A major problem is the automatic thinking that mainstream media are the ‘bad guys’ and lie, therefore independent media must be the ‘good guys’ and tell the truth. Yet not enough people are reading things critically and asking themselves: who is publishing this? Who are the sources? Has this been reported by any other journalists? What is the outlook of the news source and what are they hoping to gain by providing me with this information?

Finally, Jeremy thinks media pluralism is a big problem. He says:

80% of the UK press is owned by 5 multi-billionaires who don’t pay tax.

The specific figures Jeremy quotes are difficult to verify, though experts have expressed concern about media pluralism, both in the UK and across the EU. Is a lack of media pluralism a problem?

To get a response for our readers, we put all five of the above comments to two experts:

💬 Peter Stano, Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, European External Action Service

💬 Rose Jackson, Director of Democracy & Tech Initiative, Digital Forensic Research Lab, Atlantic Council

See the video at the top of this post for their responses.

What’s the best way to combat disinformation? Who decides what is disinformation? Are social media platforms to blame for letting disinformation spread? 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: BigStock – (c) MicroOne
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

24 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU-Reform Proactive

    Welcome back EU sponsored DE!

    Frankly speaking- I don’t trust or ‘believe’ any politician & political dogma!

    Being a “none expert”, non-political, unsponsored, independent one-man- own opinion “Think Tank” I restrict my comment to the EU- Euroland supranational political treaty culture and its questionable invisible hand.

    * To go beyond does create too many conflicting & divergent thoughts.

    * 27x national + 1x EU= 28 competing political landscapes is already a major task to maintain one’s sanity within a gone-mad Europe & an equally mad world!

    * I further try to keep a clear head & avoid the clutter in the universe of modern social media & the professional mass media hype. No Facebook, Twitter or similar time-wasting activities. A dose of DE is enough!

    * Simply, I select & limit my time to search for the “truth behind” from extraordinary, reliable, neutral, scientific, technical & factional sources.

    The end.

  2. avatar

    Talking about disinformation : you are the best at it !! Free Assange !

  3. avatar

    Those WHO are on a mission to combat disinformation are most of the time on a mission to disinform.

  4. avatar

    Stay away from government subsidized media !

  5. avatar
    De Crapuleuze Criticus

    The best way to combat disinformation is to not believe a single thing the mainstream media is telling you.

  6. avatar

    Putting the television down ?

  7. avatar

    The best way? Not to read you

  8. avatar
    Agnes Anna

    TRANSPARENCY, AL THE WAY, of the ONES who ARE RUNNING the household of EUROPE !!! Even LOBBY-practices !!!

  9. avatar
    JT HK

    Have citizens be informed why EU leaders would allow a proxy war between the US and Russia hurt citizens interests with all these irrational sanctions? Already the COVID has led to the death of many vulnerable people, without the gas to keep homes warm, how many old people would be dying relating to extreme cold without heating? What information leaders have been concealing from citizens in this proxy war between the US and Russia?

  10. avatar

    Disinformation comes when Science is hidden. It also concerns States❗

  11. avatar
    Agnes Anna

    Transparent background information … can.

  12. avatar
    Business Opportunities & strategies to increase sales

    The use of software had destroyed democracies . In addition a vote of a bank director who is well informed about many issues has the same value with a vote of someone who lives in a remote rural area and never went to school. To fix the probleme we need to create a software based in artificial intelligence. According to that whenever you shall introduce a magnetic card to vote it will know what is your level of information about the candidates, their programmes, the stage of the economy etc Like that a vote of a bank director may has a value of 1000 and an ordinary citizen who never went to school, 0.00001. If we can do that , and eliminate all the possibility of fraud than we can talk about democracy

  13. avatar

    Avoid mainstream medias and press…
    The so-called ‘official’ media are henceforth the system’s propaganda tools, as the narration on the ideas resulting from wokism perfectly illustrates.
    Here is what controlled information looks like in the USA, and it’s just because in Europe there are many languages spoken, that this same type of editing is not feasible, but it would undoubtedly illustrate the same phenomenon:
    and consulting the European press daily gives this same taste of collective and controlled single thought…

  14. avatar
    Βασίλης Αλέξανδρος

    Governments need to be more accountable. This is where it all starts. Once people lose faith in governments, good luck in reigning in or attempting to combat disinformation.

  15. avatar

    Except there is one end of the political spectrum that is definitely more prone to disinformation, or even interested to use it for political purposes.

  16. avatar
    JT HK

    To combat disinformation is not the purely the responsibility of the government. It is the attitude of individuals who get use to brainwash by freedom and democracy the media and politicians have been spreading. People tend to have preconception and selective in receiving information. For example those lip servicing freedom and democracy are representing the good. China, Russia and all countries the US labelled as authoritarian are bad. This is the stupidity of the mass and unavoidable kind of illness spread with political campaigns of election. When people are regularly being brainwashed by politicians, they lack the basic ability to distinguish facts or fake news. Even worse, they are too lazy to fact check. As we are in the IT era, fact check is very easily but no one bother to do this. In a free world, government is not the parents of its people and helping young children to screen information received. If government is doing this, they would definitely being blamed dictatorship and control free dissemination of information. People of the “free world” ought to do more by themselves and use more their brain rather than blaming the government.

  17. avatar

    Open debate. We are fed a daily diet of disinformation in the form of propaganda and the news is censored to the point that no one believes it any more and we have to look elsewhere for the truth. The truth will always come out. The truth is self-evident. The truth can bear scrutiny and cross-examination. Lies cannot.
    The more alternative information is suppressed the more it is believed. It is the ‘narrative’ that needs to be combated. Controlled information is not truth. It is merely what they want us to believe.

  18. avatar

    It should be illigal to dezinform and manipulate others with desinformation intentionally for your own gains or to do harm to others!

  19. avatar

    Defund/ban legacy media, get rid of today’s politicians.

  20. avatar

    Yes, media companies are obligated by law to prived us just the truth and proved stories… They should not twist the truth or exagerate the circumstances…
    Media itself should fight for the truth and against desinformation!
    The sources of lies and desinformation should be banned!

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More debate series – European Voices for Healthier Democracies: Combatting Disinformation, Misinformation & Fake News View all

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