The European Commission states “growing threats from disinformation” in North Macedonia

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Disinformation in the Macedonian internet space is spreading rapidly. The European Commission also expressed concern about this issue in the latest 2022 Report on the progress of N. Macedonia on its European integration path

 

Author: Simona Atanasova

 

The Report states that there are “growing threats from disinformation”, and points to online media and social networks as the main source of various types of disinformation.

Online media is not governed by a specific law, and there are differing views on the need for regulation, especially in view of the growing threats from disinformation. Online media and social media platforms are the main source of disinformation, misinformation, hate speech, breaches of professional standards and intellectual property rights infringements, states the 2022 EC Report.

In the context of the disinformation regarding the war in Ukraine, the Commission notes in the Report that in March 2022 the Government banned the rebroadcasting of Russian TV channels by amending the Law on Restrictive Measures.

Hate speech is prohibited both online and offline, but it persists online, the European Commission emphasizes.

About the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, they note that it was proactive in promoting media literacy, and gender equality in media programs, as well as in condemning pressures and threats against journalists and the media. The report states also that:

Transparency of media ownership is a legal obligation for the audio-visual and print media. The media regulator publishes the registers of the broadcasters and print media on its website.

With regard to hybrid threats, the Commission notes that North Macedonia completed the research on EU hybrid risks in order to identify systemic vulnerabilities and rationalize the assistance provided by the EU in this field.

However, there are no legal obligations for online media with regard to media ownership. In October 2021, the government adopted the National Strategy and Action Plan on building resilience and confronting hybrid threats (2021-2025). These documents include a wide range of activities addressing challenges of disinformation and hybrid threats, reads the Report.

To improve the situation, according to the Commission, campaigns are needed to inform stakeholders and the general public in order to increase their resilience against disinformation.

The European Commission adds that media associations should continue promoting the established register of online media (promedia.mk) in order to increase the professionalism and standards of online journalism.

“Truthmeter” using its expert, comprehensive and standardized fact-checking methodology in the past year debunked hundreds of untrue posts on various topics, both on social networks and misinformation published in the media.

 

Disinformation is not a problem only in North Macedonia

Disinformation is a global problem and is not only present in N. Macedonia. The European Union and its member states are also facing this rapidly growing challenge.

Maria Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said a few days ago that:

Disinformation spreads online six times faster than the truth.

She referred to a study, according to which 80 percent of EU citizens see fake news as a problem in their country and for democracy. According to her, data shows that half of Europeans aged 15 do not know how to distinguish disinformation. The European Commissioner pointed out that disinformation leads to division in society and causes damage.

 


This article has been produced within the project Fact-Checking the Progress of North Macedonia towards the EU, implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation. The article, originally published by Truthmeter,, is made possible by the support of the American non-profit foundation NED (National Endowment for Democracy). The content of this article is the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, NED or their partners.

 

 

 

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