In the 21st century, the threat of disinformation is more imminent than ever. False information, circulated on popular media or online, harms and threatens democracies substantially and, in times of a global pandemic, significantly endangers the health and well-being of its citizens. Disinformation breaks trust between institutions and citizens, who are impaired in their ability to form opinions and make informed decisions, for example in state elections or following health recommendations to protect themselves and others.
The High Level Expert Group on Fake News and Online Disinformation defines disinformation as “verifiably false or misleading information created, presented and disseminated for economic gain or to intentionally deceive the public and that may cause public harm”*. To counteract the risk of causing public harm, the European Union is undertaking concrete actions against disinformation, as outlined in the 2018 Action Plan on Disinformation**. These actions include raising awareness, improving detection and analysis capabilities, increasing coordinated responses, among others.
Among specific target groups, young people are specifically vulnerable to false information. According to a recent Eurobarometer survey***, 63% of younger Europeans come across fake news more than once a week. This exposure significantly threatens their right to be informed and limits them in their ability to make decisions based on reliable, truthful information. More information