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 21 - 30 of 36


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Number of Ads Blocked by Twitter (May 2019)

The chart, based on data reported by Twitter under the European Union Code of Practice against Disinformation, shows the distribution of ads from non-certified accounts prevented from targeting European Union member states between April and May 2019. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Ireland was targeted by the most ads of this kind, while Lithuania by the least ones.
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Number of Ads Rejected Under Twitter's Quality Ads Policy

Based on the data reported by Twitter under the European Union Code of Practice against Disinformation, in the period 01 to 20 May 2019, the United Kingdom was the target of the most rejected ads under Twitter's Quality Ads Policy. It was followed by Sweden and France. Lithuania is the country targeted by the fewest rejected ads. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.
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Number of Ads Rejected Under Twitter's Unacceptable Business Practices Ads Policy

Based on the data reported by Twitter under the European Union Code of Practice against Disinformation, in the period 01 to 20 May 2019, the United Kingdom was the target of the most rejected ads under Twitter's Unacceptable Business Practices Ads Policy. It was followed by Sweden and Spain. Lithuania is the country targeted by the fewest rejected ads.
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Number of Engagements Connected to the Clearly Anti-European Union Articles

The graph illustrates the high number of engagements connected to clearly anti-European Union articles related to the Vote Leave campaign and to Russia Today and Sputnik. It also shows the high level of engagement of Russian disinformation organisations in United Kingdom, in the months leading up to Brexit. The European Union refers to EU28. The United Kindom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.
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Objects Most Often Attacked by Disinformation or Manipulation on the Internet in Poland (2019, in Polish)

The chart illustrated the results of a 2019 survey that looked at the perception of Polish internet users towards the most often objects targeted by disinformation or Internet manipulation. The results showed that Poles identified the government and central institutions and opposition parties as the subjects most often targeted by this type of attacks. On the other hand, the least targeted objects were the ethnic or national minorities or the army.
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Opinions About Organisations Responsible for Combating Fake News or Disinformation

This chart shows the distributions of finding of of a special Eurobarometer survey, conducted in December 2019. The respondents were asked which of the above-mentioned should be responsible for combatting fake news or disinformation and were allowed to select more than one option. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.
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Opinions About Possible Measures Taken by the Public Authorities to Address Fake News or Disinformation

The chart shows the distribution of the responses to the question “In your opinion, which of the following measures should be taken by public authorities to address fake news or disinformation?" of the participants to in the Special Eurobarometer survey conducted in December 2019. The question allows responded to select more than one answer. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.
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Percentage of Active False Posts With No Direct Warning Label

The chart shows the percentage of posts in Reuters Institute's sample rated as false that were still active and did not have a clear label at the end of March 2020 (Twitter: (N=43; YouTube: N=6; Facebook: N=33) out of the total number of posts on each platform in the sample (Twitter: N= 73; YouTube: N= 22; Facebook: N=137).
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Perception of the Frequency of Encountering News or Information Believed to Misrepresent Reality or be False Across European Union Countries

The finding of the Special Eurobarometer 503 shows that 85% of Maltese respondents encountered news or information that they believe misrepresents reality or is false at least several times a month compared to only 53% in Bulgaria. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.
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Perception of the Frequency of Encountering News or Information Believed to Misrepresent Reality or be False at European Union Level

The findings of the Special Eurobarometer survey show that more than half of the respondents (55%) have came across news or information that they believe misrepresents reality or is false at least once a week. Moreover, one in three respondents encountered this type of information every day or almost every day. European Union refers to EU28. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.