Fake News Survey

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The topic of “fake news” rose to prominence last year during the Brexit referendum vote and the US Elections. It is referring to false or intentionally misleading, unsubstantiated claims or stories amplified online and through social media. Today, fake news seems to be an inevitable growing trend posing a serious threat to the democratic process notably in the lead-up to elections in countries worldwide.

Should public service media be concerned about the uncontrollable spread of “fake news”? Should this issue be dismissed by reiterating that fact-checking is after all an integral part of journalism? Should PSM help social media platforms filter and stop the dissemination of misinformation?

The EBU decided to conduct a survey with 22 Member organizations to have an overview on how concerned Members were over the rise of fake news on social networks, what type of initiatives are currently active or envisaged in their newsrooms to tackle the issue, and if they were, or are, contemplating collaborating with Facebook, Google or with a global fact checking initiative.

The survey was presented to the Editors in chief meeting in Helsinki in March 2017 and will be presented at the News Contacts meeting in Rome in May 2017.

WHO took part?

Twenty-one EBU Member organizations - ARD, BBC, BR, CT, Channel 4, DR, DW, France Televisions, HRT, MTVA, NOS, NRK, ORF, RAI, RTP, RTS, SRF, TF1, VRT, YLE, ZDF + ERNO - are represented in this study conducted in Q1 2017.

KEY FINDINGS of our Fake News survey:

  • All participants considered tackling fake news a high or medium priority.
  • 16 out of 22 currently have a fact-checking initiative in place or being worked on.
  • 50% are taking-part in a global or local fact-checking initiative partnership or are considering joining one.
  • The study highlights how many Members were approached by 3rd party platforms to take part in global fact-checking initiatives, how they responded and the motivations to go or not into partnerships with them.
  • Over half of Members surveyed were in favour of EBU launching a fact-checking initiative of some sort.

What is the EBU doing?

Fake news, unreliable news sources and polarization are causing mistrust in journalism.

The EBU’s Executive Board has defined “Quality Journalism” as one of the strategic 2017/2018 priorities for the EBU to support its Members. A transversal initiative led by the EBU Media Department has been launched in order to reposition PSM news as the most trusted news source, and to bring news in various formats and to all audiences. A roadmap for the initiative will be shared with EBU Members in the following months.

Contact details

Ezra Eeman
Head of Digital
Anne-Marie Lupu-Morel
News editor / Digital

Downloads Members Only

Relevant Links

EBU Media Lunchtime Talk showcased PSM initiatives to counter fake news and disinformation (29 Mar 2017)

Filter bubbles and fake news were at the heart of the 13th session of the EBU Legal and Public Affairs Assembly (6-7 Apr 2017)

Download fake news-related presentations from EBU Legal and Public Affairs Assembly in Madrid. Members Only

Masterclass Verification in the newsroom: digital newsgathering with confidence (1-2 June, 2017)

More about Digital Media