Analysts of the internationally recognized fact checking platform “Raskrinkavanje” published the report “Disinformation in the Online Sphere: The Case of BiH” carried out with the financial support of the European Union.
In the period from November 2017 to November 2018, “Raskrinkavanje” analysed about 2500 media items found to contain some form of disinformation. The research showed that 62% of all false or misleading content published on over 450 media focused on political issues.
The Head of Communications at the EU Office in BiH, Jamila Milović-Halilović, stressed the importance of the research, the first of its kind in the region, which devoted particular attention to methodology based on fact checking and complex data science algorithms.
The research established that anonymous portals most frequently generate and distribute disinformation, but individually it was public media that continuously published disinformation of a political nature. About half of the media included in the research are located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while over 100 outlets publishing such content during the year-long period were located in countries of the region.
One of the research co-authors Tijana Cvijetićanin noted that the analysis also investigated the complex relations among individual media.
“Algorithm analysis was conducted to establish whether there are groups of media that are prone to continuously, regularly and frequently using each other as sources and redistributors of the same disinformation,” she said.
In the report is stressed that most of the sources of political disinformation are media based in BiH.
“There is, however, an alarmingly high number of media from neighbouring countries which appear in the analysed sample through their connections with BiH-based media outlets, using each other as sources and redistributors of disinformation. These media outlets form a large disinformation “hub”, used by local and possibly foreign political actors to influence public opinion in BiH and the region with considerable regularity and frequency,” emphasized the report.
It was added that the disinformative content produced by this “network” relates both to political issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to geopolitical issues and events in the region, shaping them predominantly through the anti-Western lens.
“Out of 29 media in this hub, 15 are located in Serbia and 14 in BiH (out of which 12 in Republika Srpska). Russian government-owned media outlet “Sputnik” (Serbian edition) is the only foreign-owned media in this disinformation hub, appearing as one of the main “connectors” of media located in Serbia and those located in Republika Srpska”, the Report reads.