People in the EU want stronger action against disinformation
According to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the majority of people in the EU would like more action to be taken against disinformation on the Internet. She is often unsure whether she is dealing with fake news or valid information. However, less than half of those surveyed actually check whether they have just come across disinformation, and even fewer report it or point it out. Respondents believe that politicians and social media platform operators have a great deal of responsibility for less disinformation online.
Goal already achieved: increased uncertainty
According to the foundation, 54 percent of respondents across Europe were often or very often unsure whether information on the Internet was true or not. According to the survey, uncertainty is particularly pronounced in Italy (63 percent), Spain (57 percent) and France (55 percent). In Germany, 47 percent of respondents were unsure about the truthfulness of statements. In the Netherlands, the figure is only 38 percent. According to study author Dr. For Kai Unzicker, these figures also give an indication “that the spread of disinformation has probably already achieved an important goal of the authors: increasing uncertainty.”
39 percent of those surveyed are certain that they have often or very often encountered disinformation on the Internet. Only 11 percent stated that this had not been the case before.
Politicians and platforms should do more
The respondents are very unanimous that both politicians and social media platform operators should do more to combat disinformation. 85 percent said this in relation to politics, 89 percent in relation to platform operators such as Twitter or X, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok. So far, 44 percent of those surveyed have taken action themselves to check the truthfulness of information on the Internet. Disinformation was reported by 22 percent of those surveyed, and 22 percent also drew other users’ attention to disinformation.
The influence of social media is primarily viewed ambivalently.
(Image: Bertelsmann Foundation)
As strongly as the citizens see a need for action when it comes to disinformation in social media, they rate it as positive: 28 percent attest that they have a positive influence on democracy, 30 percent also see clearly negative effects on democracy, 42 percent of the Respondents are ambivalent about the influence.
Younger and educated people are more likely to check and warn
According to the study, age and education have a clear influence on how disinformation is dealt with. Younger and more educated respondents engaged more actively with information. As the level of education increases, so does the proportion of those who check information. Younger respondents were also more likely to point out incorrect information to other users.
Younger and educated people are more likely to check information for validity, the study found.
(Image: Bertelsmann Foundation)
The Bertelsmann Foundation derives recommendations for action from its study in order to be able to better combat disinformation. There must be systematic monitoring of the phenomenon of disinformation in Germany and Europe. This should be carried out nationwide by trustworthy and competent bodies. The population must also be made aware of the issue of disinformation and media and news skills must be taught to all generations. According to the foundation, there should be consistent and transparent content moderation on the platforms.
According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, more than 13,000 people within the EU were asked about disinformation online as part of a regular quarterly survey. The survey was conducted via online surveys of people between the ages of 16 and 70 in all 27 EU member states. The data should be weighted by gender, age and region and thus be representative for the entire EU. Due to the design of the sample, additional separate values could only be shown for seven countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain.
The Bertelsmann Stiftung distinguishes disinformation from false and misinformation, among other things. Accordingly, disinformation is “false news that is spread by its producers intentionally and with the aim of causing harm. This distinguishes it from false or misinformation, which is just as false but circulated unintentionally, and from harmful information (Malinformation) which, while also disseminated with the intent to cause harm, unlike disinformation, is factual.”
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