Media Literacy Index: Bulgaria is the least able to resist fake news

Media Literacy Index: Bulgaria is the least able to resist fake news

Bulgaria is the country in the European Union most unable to withstand the negative effects of fake news and most vulnerable in the fight against it. This shows the Media Literacy Index for 2022, prepared in the framework of the European Policy Initiative (EuPI) of the Open Society Institute – Sofia, and assesses the potential for resilience against fake news in 41 European countries, using indicators of media freedom, education and trust in people .

Bulgaria is in 33rd place, but is last in the EU. Before that is Ukraine, , Romania and . Moldova, Montenegro and are in the same group, but with a worse result than Bulgaria.

Most resistant to the influence of fake news and disinformation are the Scandinavian countries – Finland (in the first place), Norway, Denmark and Estonia. In these countries, the quality of education, media freedom and high trust among people are the reasons why societies can deal with the impact of fake news.

At the bottom of the ranking is Georgia, preceded by North Macedonia (40th place) and Kosovo (39th) with almost the same results, Bosnia and Herzegovina (38th) and (37th). Bulgaria ranks last among the EU member states, occupying 33rd place out of a total of 41 countries.

“It is worrying that the societies most vulnerable to the effects of fake news are at the same time the least concerned about the spread and effects of disinformation,” notes Marin Lesenski, author of the report, quoted in the research press release.

When measuring indexes, indicators of different importance are calculated. Media freedom indicators are weighted the most (assessments by Freedom House and are used) together with education indicators (the PISA survey), with literacy having the highest share among education indicators. The indicators for e-participation and trust in people (Eurostat) have less weight compared to the other indicators.

Bulgaria is the worst performer on indicators measuring the quality of education, ranking 34th out of 41 countries, lagging behind including countries in the region outside the European Union, such as Ukraine, Serbia and Turkey, but scoring similarly to Romania.

“Education is an essential component in countering fake news. For example, the government of Finland, which for another year topped the media literacy rankings, sees a strong public education system as a key tool to counter the information war against the country, and widespread critical thinking among the Finnish population and a coordinated government response’ is considered a key factor in countering disinformation. In general, more educated people are considered to be more informed, more critical thinkers and less likely to fall into the trap of fabricated news.” , the report authors also note.

According to indicators measuring media freedom, Bulgaria ranks 32nd, ahead of countries such as and Serbia, but behind non-EU countries such as Moldova, Kosovo and Montenegro. In terms of trust between people, Bulgaria performs slightly better, occupying 29th place with a similar result to and just behind the Czech Republic, including ahead of another EU member – .

Bulgaria performs best on e-participation indicators, ranked 13th out of 41 countries in Europe, but these indicators carry relatively little weight in determining the final ranking.

How to make countries more resilient

The 2022 edition of the Media Literacy Index comes at a time when the “infodemic” accompanying the has coincided with the propaganda “information war” waged against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, multiplying both the disinformation and the resulting threat from the , specified by “Open Society”.

According to them, the institute has always advocated action through education as an approach to dealing with disinformation. “However, as recent experience shows, education is a necessary but long road. Regulation, including the introduction of restrictions, may turn out to be a necessary and inevitable step. Otherwise, the ‘paradox of tolerance’ emerges when the rules of are used to undermine it” , they also write in the report.

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– /Dnevnik, Media Literacy Index

Copyright (c) Published with permission via the news agency Big News Network


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