Disinformation

Few issues are as contentious as the role and spread of "disinformation" on social media and Internet platforms.

First and foremost is the thorny question of how disinformation can best be identified and when platforms should be required to block and/or remove content. The issue touches upon core questions of free speech and political expression. And has led to a plethora of confused policies and stop-start initiatives. According to a recent "code of conduct" agreed in 2018 with platform-industry input, platforms must remove any content that "may cause public harm" or poses "threats to democratic political and policymaking processes as well as public goods such as the protection of European Union citizens’ health, the environment or security." But the same agreement excludes a ban on "misleading advertising, reporting errors, satire and parody, or clearly identified partisan news and commentary." Drawing on the complex problem of stopping the spread of inaccurate health information in a global emergency, the European Commission released tackling COVID-19 disinformation - getting the facts right, a 16-page communication proposing monthly progress reports and tougher restrictions and labelling requirements for false health information that might be circulating through encrypted messaging apps.

Given the difficulty of legislating in this area, regulators have tended to rely on "self-regulation," such as the code of practice on disinformation mentioned above. But how well are these semi-formal agreements working? Are there perhaps lessons – positive as well as negative – that could be drawn up based on the relative success or failure of these codes in practice and the real-world functioning of the Internet in an unprecedented era of democratic expression and outright disinformation?

Below we pulled together some of the best evidence on the relative spread and level of identifiable disinformation as well as the efforts to contain and remove it.

Additional information on disinformation around the world can be found on the World Intermediary Liability Map (WILMap), led by the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School.

Records 11 - 20 of 34


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Distribution of Sources Used for Coronavirus News in Germany

The chart shows that German respondents trust the most scientists, doctors and health experts when it comes to getting information about coronavirus (74%) and trust the least people they don't know (15%). The results are based on the participants' answers to the following question "Q10: How trustworthy would you say news and information about coronavirus (COVID-19) from the following is? Please use the scale below where 0 is "not at all trustworthy" and 10 is "completely trustworthy.""
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Distribution of Sources Used for Coronavirus News in Spain

The chart shows that Spanish respondents trust the most scientists, doctors and health experts when it comes to getting information about coronavirus (84%) and trust the least people they don't know (16%). The results are based on the participants' answers to the following question "Q10: How trustworthy would you say news and information about coronavirus (COVID-19) from the following is? Please use the scale below where 0 is "not at all trustworthy" and 10 is "completely trustworthy.""
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Distribution of Sources Used for Coronavirus News in the United Kingdom

The chart shows that United Kingdom respondents trust the most national health organisations when it comes to getting information about coronavirus (89%) and trust the least people they don't know (10%). The results are based on the participants' answers to the following question "Q10: How trustworthy would you say news and information about coronavirus (COVID-19) from the following is? Please use the scale below where 0 is "not at all trustworthy" and 10 is "completely trustworthy.""
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Europeans' Views on Whether Disinformation is a Problem in Their Country

According to the results of the Eurobarometer survey, in all countries, more than half of respondents viewed the existence of news or information that misrepresents reality or is even false as a problem. Over 90% of respondents from Cyprus, Greece and Italy view this kind of information as problem in their country, while in Belgium only 66% share this view. The respondents were asked "Q4.1 In your opinion, is the existence of news or information that misrepresent reality or even false a problem in your country?" European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.
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Frequency of Encountering Disinformation at the European Union Level

The results of the Eurobarometer survey show that more than 60% of respondents reported encountering information or news that they believed misrepresented reality or was even false at least once per week. Only 17% reported that they did so seldom or never. The respondents were asked "Q.2 How often do you come across news or information that you believe misrepresent reality or is even false?" European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.
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Frequency of Encountering Disinformation Online (by Country)

This chart shows the data collected via survey for the Flash Eurobarometer 464. The data shows the frequency with which respondents reported encountering information that they believe misrepresents reality or is even false. Respondents from Spain reported encountering such information with the highest frequency, while respondents from Finland reported encountering such information least frequently. The respondents were asked "Q2 How often do you come across news or information that misrepresent reality or even false a problem in your country?" European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.
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Google Ads Accounts With Misrepresentation Violations (by Country)

The chart shows the number of Google Ads accounts with adds violating Google's standards regarding misrepresentation, by billing country. The data used are those reported by Google under the European Union Code of Practice against Disinformation. The results show that Germany is the billing country for the highest number of these accounts. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.
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Google Ads Accounts With Violation of the Policy "Insufficient Original Content" (by Country)

This data reported by Google under the European Union Code of Practice against Disinformation shows the number of Google Ads accounts whose adds violated Google's standards regarding original content, split up by billing country. The United Kingdom was listed as the billing country for the highest number of these accounts.
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Levels of Trust in News and Information from Different Sources at European Union Level

The Eurobarometer survey’s data shows that respondents were more likely to trust traditional news sources, such as radio, television, and printed newspapers and news magazines, than they were to trust online sources. Also, the respondents were more likely to report that they didn't know how much they trusted online sources. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.
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Levels of Trust in News and Information From Online Social Networks and Messaging Apps Across European Union Member States

The chart shows the distribution of the responses to the question, "How much do you trust or not the news and information you access through online social networks and messaging apps?" of participants in the Eurobarometer survey. The data shows that respondents from Portugal were the most likely to trust this type of information, while respondents from Austria were the least likely to do so. Among all Europeans, 26% of respondents said that they trusted this information. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.