UNDP organized a panel discussion on the negative impact of misinformation on the electoral process and in society in general
Miss the Misinformation
September 15, 2023
Spreading disinformation and fake news, manipulating facts and distorting reality has become a daily occurrence. Taking into account the citizens’ exposure to disinformation, as well as the upcoming elections in the country, it is necessary to work on positive practices to create greater social resistance to misinformation, concluded the participants at today’s panel discussion titled “Democracy at Stake: Tackling Misinformation’s Threat to Elections”. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized the event on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, which is traditionally observed on September 15.
“The negative impact of misinformation knows no bounds. They affect us all, regardless of where we live or what we do. They undermine trust, deteriorate the foundations of democracy and hinder the inclusion of marginalized groups in society. According to the latest Media Literacy Index, 70 percent of people in North Macedonia are at risk of believing manipulative information without checking it, compared to Finland where this index is at 10 percent. Therefore, it is necessary to unite all social factors in the fight against disinformation,” said Armen Grigoryan, UNDP Resident Representative.
Journalists encounter disinformation every day and are often the first ones that will either prevent it or allow it to spread to the public. That is why it is important to raise awareness among journalists of the harmful consequences of disinformation and to become more prepared to fight them, recommended the President of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia, Mladen Chadikovski.
“In an era of enormous flow of information, especially on digital platforms, our profession is at a critical crossroad. We are constantly navigating through a field where facts can be blurred, truths can be manipulated and disinformation can be spread at the speed of light. To be more precise, disinformation, whether intentional or unintentional, threaten the very essence of our profession. “Thanks” to them, trust in media is deteriorating, communities are being divided and the foundations of democracy are being undermined. As journalists, our mission has never been more important – to serve as guardians of the truth, to provide accurate and verified information, and to demand responsibility from all political factors, in the direction of becoming responsible channels for disseminating information,” said Chadikovski.
The participants of the panel discussion spoke about the need to work on greater media literacy, increasing media integrity, and the significant influence of social media on the citizens’ daily consumption of information.
“Not all disinformation is viral, but the most dangerous are. Going to a news aggregator or social network for information is like going into a jungle armed with a pen. You simply have to select what you follow. A key method that I use is an information diet, that is, limiting the number of information that I receive on a daily basis. That is my system, everyone can build their own to filter the information, but we need to keep in mind that we must help the citizens to filter the information,” said Sead Dzigal, a professor at the Faculty of Communication.
UNDP announced that it is implementing the “Miss the Misinformation” project, aimed at strengthening the capacities of local communities to be more resilient to misinformation and gender-based disinformation.The activities will be aimed at increasing media literacy and media integrity, exposing the existing disinformation through the creation of a regional platform, that will publish valid and reliable journalistic products from several smaller cities in the country, as well as increasing social awareness on gender-based disinformation. The Association of Journalists in Macedonia and the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption will be project partners, and the Project will be implemented with the financial support of Denmark, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea and Sweden, within the UNDP Funding Windows Programme.