The battle for the truth
Since the 2016 US election campaign and the unexpected outcome of the
Brexit referendum in the UK, the term ‘fake news’ has become an integral
part of public debate. Disinformation has always been around, but its
dissemination in the digital media world is very targeted and is also
increasing exponentially in speed and scope. Fake news is greedily
‘consumed’, spread, and frenetically shared via social media in some
sections of society and by some of its leaders.It is now easy to dismiss
an opponent’s narrative without further debate by qualifying facts and
interpretations as ‘fake’. There is a very real risk that these
mechanisms will have disastrous consequences for the functioning of a
full democratic society.
This position paper provides insight into the societal debate, the background of the digital ecosystem, and the many initiatives doing the rounds. The text concludes with a number of policy recommendations. These recommendations are mainly concerned with more scientific research into the various aspects of disinformation, and investments in fact-checking and media wisdom.