The European Union released the final report from its High Level Expert Group on fake news, entitled “A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Disinformation,” on March 12. Several of the experts involved in fact-checking and tracking disinformation, including Claire Wardle of First Draft and Alexios Mantzarlis of the International Fact-Checking Network, summed up the main points of the report in a Medium post, which said the report’s contributions include:
Important definitional work rejecting the use of the phrase “fake news”; an emphasis on freedom of expression as a fundamental right; a clear rejection of any attempt to censor content; a call for efforts to counter interference in elections; a commitment by tech platforms to share data; calls for investment in media and information literacy and comprehensive evaluations of these efforts; as well as cross-border research into the scale and impact of disinformation.
Among other things, the group notes that at a time when many governments are trying to pass laws aimed at stamping out fake news, this is not the right approach: “Many political bodies seem to believe that the solution to online disinformation is one simple ‘fake news’ law away, [but] the report clearly spells out that it is not. It urges the need for caution and is skeptical particularly of any regulation of content.”Mathew Ingram is CJR’s chief digital writer. Previously, he was a senior writer with Fortune magazine. He has written about the intersection between media and technology since the earliest days of the commercial internet. His writing has been published in the Washington Post and the Financial Times as well as by Reuters and Bloomberg.