Fake news and the Balkans

Fake news and the Balkans

The latest Media Literacy Index (2018) published by the Sofia-based Open Society Institute headed by the Hungarian-American investor and business magnate George Soros, titled Common Sense Wanted, looks at how much hoaxes make the public in 35 countries surrender to them and why.

“The countries with the lowest results are in Southeastern Europe -from Croatia to Turkey- along with their immediate neighbors Hungary and Cyprus.” The reason for poor results has to do with bad “or mediocre performance in education as well as the controlled (not free) media. Such countries are most likely to be vulnerable to fake news and the ensuing negative effects.”

The index shows that Greece is -according to the cluster analysis of data for 2018- in the middle transitional cluster.

Bosnia ranks 30th among 35 states and “is the second to last cluster along with Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia i Herzegovina and Albania.”

The most susceptible to “rumors, hoaxes, outright lies, and disinformation from foreign governments or hostile entities”, however, are fYROMacedonia and Turkey due to poor education standards, media illiteracy, “low public trust and low media freedom”.


Combined with the findings of surveys from watchdogs Freedom House and Reporters without Borders, it was noted that the lack of media freedom in the western Balkan nation is causing a great bit of the damage.

“Yet Turkey has earned the lowest score (0) for media freedom in Europe, due to Ankara’s purge of media outlets following a failed military coup in 2016, the poor treatment of journalists, and restrictive telecommunication laws according to the latest Freedom of the Press index”, Euronews reports, citing information by the Media Literacy Index 2018.

Marin Lessenski, the report’s author, has reached the conclusion that media freedom and high quality of education are not simply and only interrelated in this specific field of public life but, as factors, one is affecting the other. Moreover, countries were people are well or better educated than in others, have more media and the citizens tend to consult as many as possible in order to get informed about news that are interested in.

“Respondents with a higher level of education tend to trust more various sources (radio, television, online, etc.),” the report notes.

“Also, respondents with a higher level of education say they come across fake news more often and they feel more confident identifying it,” the index reads.

Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands have “won” the top three positions (in the order they are written)… / IBNA