Fake news has become a worldwide phenomenon in relation to the consumption of online information. From the moment we click our way into a news site or social media platform we are surrounded by information that may or may not be true. According to the report “Information Disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policymaking” published by the Council of Europe, information disorders can be categorized into three dimensions:
- Mis-information: when false information is shared, but no harm is meant.
- Dis-information: when false information is knowingly shared to cause harm.
- Mal-information: when genuine information is shared to cause harm, often by moving information designed to stay private into the public sphere.
Due to the current sanitary crisis that we are experiencing not only in Europe but throughout the world, there is a new information disorder that we could add to the previously mentioned dimensions, the infodemic. Coined by The World Health Organization (WHO), “the 2019-nCoV outbreak and response have been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic’ – an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it”.
To fight against this wave of mis/dis/mal-formation around the COVID-19 crisis, the WHO has added a “myth busters” section to its online coronavirus advice pages. In this section, they are trying to refute COVID-19 related myths using informative infographics, such as the one below.
Last but not least, the European Commission is acting to fight against the disinformation and misinformation, to raise the awareness of Europeans on these matters around COVID-19 outbreak. The EC is sharing a list of trusted and reliable health authorities such as the WHO and more on https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/health/coronavirus-response/fighting-disinformation_en to give to the citizens the right links to stay well informed.
Related to disinformation refutation, the European project “Open Your Eyes: Fake news for dummies” has developed the Check it Out database with a collection of useful tools and initiatives to learn about online disinformation: what it is, how it spreads and how to counter it. In these uncertain times, it sounds essential, imperative to educate ourselves about disinformation. Open your Eyes database is now available on www.openyoureyes.info/en.
The partners of the project are currently working on the development of a handbook full of tools and resources, address to European adults’ educators who wants to know more about disinformation. Keep an eye on the site to know more about it!
It is more than important that European citizens learn more about how to define real and false information every day: to protect themselves and their close family and friends.