Raising awareness on local and regional level about the impact of disinformation and ways to counter it
Raising awareness on the EU and national level about the role local and regional authorities and communities should play in countering disinformation
Exploring the possibilities of capacity-building of local and regional authorities, media, and civil society in countering disinformation
In the opinion, the role that local and regional authorities should play in countering disinformation was precisely described. Rapporteur Laents participated as a speaker at the EESC conference on "Populism and fundamental rights – suburban and rural areas" on 11/07/2019 and also at a CoR-IDEA-organised conference on "The State of Democracy in East-Central Europe: Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall" on 20/11/2019.
Disinformation is an importan area of CIVEX and the CoR, requiring its permanent attention. In that line, CIVEX plans to organise in 2020 two interactive workshops on countering disinformation, similar to those organised in 2018 in Kyiv and in 2019 in Brussels. First workshop is planned for May/June for members of local authorities in the framework of integration programme, and the second one in September in Armenia for the youth.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
welcomes the European Commission's initiative to counter disinformation, pointing out that the Action Plan takes insufficient account of the regional and local levels, although it is often there that the problems associated with this subject originate;
reaffirms the points made in its opinion on Tackling online disinformation: a European approach. People need to be made more aware of this problem, in particular by raising awareness through education in schools;
notes that new ways of accessing and disseminating information require new skills, which should go hand in hand with critical examination of information and its sources;
notes that there is little or no monitoring of editors or the reliability of the information disseminated in the new media;
points out that only a long and complex process can raise people's awareness and change their behaviour, inter alia by imparting media literacy skills;
stresses that social media platforms should establish user services delivering quick assistance in relation to content, including standardised, swift and effective procedures against false information or hate speech, provided in all EU languages and taking into account local cultural context;
notes the urgent need to expand the ability of regional and local authorities and other local stakeholders to tackle disinformation;
stresses that combating the spread of disinformation must on no account amount to the monitoring of beliefs or censorship or give any such impression;
stresses that the fight against disinformation must be waged in complete transparency, with the public having access to data protection, personal data processing and financial aspects;
points out that financial resources, greater cooperation and strengthening of know-how should be used to promote initiatives for fact-checking by journalists and civil society, the debunking of myths and the dissemination of reliable information.