The challenge of Misinformation

Technologies for 21st century democracy and it challenges

There is little doubt that the public is blessed with the abundance of information as well as myriads of services being made available through the Internet. Given the real-time nature of social media outlets it is not surprising that government agencies as well as non-governmental organisations use these means to ensure immediate awareness in cases of breaking events, such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

However, along with valid information misinformation has been found to be transmitted in social media even during crisis and emergency situations. Misinformation is a common problem in all media, but is exacerbated in digital social media due to the speed and ease with which it can be spread: the social web enables people to spread information rapidly without confirmation of truth. Misinformation can be devastating to the smooth functioning of public order. One of the detrimental consequences of misinformation is when it devalues and delegitimises the message and voices of public institutions as well as experts. For instance, the widespread prevalence and persistence of misinformation in contemporary societies, such as the false belief that there is a link between childhood vaccinations and autism, is a matter of public concern.

Public institutions and governments

Objective data has also been altered and presented to the public. This kind of misinformation can undermine the actions of public institutions and governments. For instance, most countries in Europe and across the world are facing the growing challenge of managing more diverse societies, in terms of the origins, culture, ethnicity or religion. The formation of dynamic societies that can maintain equilibrium between social cohesion and respect for diversity on a foundation of democratic values and intercultural coexistence is a substantial challenge. One problematic factor in this context is the appearance of misinformation of various kinds, pointing out specific groups as more dangerous, creating mistrust, intolerance, discrimination and xenophobia. Typically, such claims are provided without reference to serious investigations or facts.

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Co-Inform Copyright 2021

Co-inform project is co-funded by Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)
Type of action: RIA (Research and Innovation action)
Proposal number: 770302

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