SLAM

SLAM Local Activities – Tuzla, B&H

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

How does Tuzla combat fake news?

Did you know that in comparison to their operational, social, and mobile skills, European children and adolescents have poor information navigation skills? According to Smahel et al. and their research conducted in 2020, only 59 percent of respondents thought it is simple to verify the accuracy of the information they discover online on average, although this figure varies substantially by country, with 36 percent in Spain and 75 percent in Serbia.

These findings provide an insight into a topic that is especially pertinent in light of the current state of fake news and misinformation on the Internet. These fake news messages endanger society in a variety of ways, influencing the public agenda as well as the audience's attitudes, ideas, and beliefs. As a result, for today's internet news consumers, news trustworthiness evaluation abilities have become a necessary news literacy skill.

For three reasons, adolescents constitute a particularly important research cohort in this area. First, because they consume news primarily on the internet and, in particular, social media, adolescents have the highest risk of being exposed to false news, as these tales are uploaded and, at times, become viral, on these platforms. Furthermore, a lack of faith in the conventional news media may lead individuals to seek out these untrustworthy online news sources even more. Second, they may lack the cognitive skills needed to spot journalistic biases, hidden political agendas, or hidden advertisements in online news articles, making it difficult to distinguish between true and false news stories. Evaluating the credibility of information in general, and news, in particular, is a difficult task. Third, fake news articles may have the greatest and longest-lasting impact on the adolescent audience, because adolescence is a critical phase of attitude formation, and attitudes developed at this time seem to last a long time.

Because of all of the mentioned, one of the local activities for the Structured Learning for Awareness in Media – SLAM project organized by members of the Bosnian Representative Association for Valuable Opportunities – BRAVO was a round table, oriented towards youth. The round table was entitled “Fake News and Youth” and it was held on January 18th.

We talked about:

  •         The impact of fake news on young people;
  •         How to recognize fake news;
  •         Why this type of news is so “attractive”?

What is the goal of false information, who are the main actors in fake news, and why are the minorities almost always mentioned in such news? These are all questions that we answered through discussions. Through this event, we have tried to raise the level of media and information literacy among 20 young people of Tuzla.

The event lasted for two hours and took place at the Tuzla Youth Center.

SLAM Seminar – Sarajevo 21.01 – 24.01.

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Following the International Day of Education, this article is going to celebrate that beautiful occupation and process. We bring you another positive story about learning. How BRAVO teaches is already familiar to you all, but let's repeat the material.

BRAVO (Bosnian Representative Association for Valuable opportunities) is a professional non-governmental organization based and focused on knowledge, entrepreneurship, civil society development, non-formal education, and innovative learning and development techniques for young people and adults.

Project through which we emphasized all of the mentioned, but also the project which has a special place in our heart is SLAM. What makes it special?

Structured Learning for Awareness in Media is the project which BRAVO has successfully coordinated in the last two years and we are very proud of our work, as well as the work of our partners. Structured Learning for Awareness in Media” (SLAM) aims at enhancing young people’s awareness and critical thinking on the role of Mass Media as a challenge and precondition for more inclusive societies towards migrants and refugees. The SLAM project involves seven partner organizations from both EU and non-EU countries. The Consortium team includes organizations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey.

From January 21 to January 24, the SLAM seminar was held in Sarajevo, and youth from 7 countries took participation in it, highly contributed to it, and gained a wide spectrum of knowledge. This is what we have dealt with during the Seminar:

  •         Positive and negative sides of media in the participants’ countries;
  •         What does the media lie about the most, where participants listed the economy, COVID-19, and VIPs;
  •         SWOT analysis of the social media;
  •         Social media campaign- How to implement different techniques and methods in SLAM social media campaign. Some of the ideas given were: Employing celebrities/influencers that would help with the reach; Subsections of the main SLAM page in different languages where content related to the certain country could be published; Fliers; Self- fact Check Guide; Helping young people in becoming more media literate, how to spot fake news and how to report it.
  •         Campaign against spreading false news and raising awareness of the importance of timely and correct media reporting;
  •         Presentations of the national teams on the topic of the presence and representation of migrants in the national media;
  •         Evaluation of the seminar
  •         Certification ceremony.

In three days of the seminar, we did incredible work and we are proud of every single participant. If this doesn’t show you the atmosphere, check our social networks.

First day of seminar – RECAP 

Second day of seminar – RECAP 

Third day of seminar – RECAP 

SLAM Local Activity in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

We all require hard work at some point in our lives. It is difficult to reach greatness without putting in the necessary effort. In other words, if an idle individual wishes to sit and wait for something else, they will get nothing. On the other side, someone who works hard all of the time will undoubtedly succeed in life, and this is precisely what this article will discuss.

As you already know, our project named Structured Learning for Awareness in Media” (SLAM) aims at enhancing young people’s awareness and critical thinking on the role of mass media as a challenge and precondition for more inclusive societies towards migrants and refugees. It also deals with the concept of fake news.

Fake news is a new subject of study that is attracting a lot of interest from academics as well as practitioners in the media.

The line between the definition of fake news and other related concepts like news satire, yellow journalism, junk news, pseudo-news, hoax news, propaganda news, advertorial, false information, fake information, misinformation, disinformation, mal-information, alternative fact, and post-truth is obscure.

Fake news is on the rise as social media is being used as a source of information by young and old. However, the effect of age on the consumption of fake news on social media remains unknown.

In the text below, we are going to present you one of the SLAM local activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina which dealt and investigated the above-mentioned issues, as well as variations in false news consumption, the tendencies of media users in consuming, sharing, and believing fake news.

After the meeting with the Udruženje CROA, members of Bosnian Representative Association for Valuable Opportunities – BRAVO got together on Saturday, January 15th, and discussed about the importance of social networking sites, their advantages and disadvantages, and how NGOs can use these platforms more effectively when it comes to the activities’ dissemination.

 

 

These wonderful people talked about how to get more attention and improve statistics on posts, but also about content writing, SEO and hashtags.

One of the main ideas discussed about is the difference in terms fake news, false information, misinformation, disinformation, mal-information and many more related terms. Participants mentioned clickbait headlines which do not have anything in common with the texts that follow them, shocking photos and videos that are taken out from the context and creation of those.

The purpose of this local activity was to define and discuss fake news and other related concepts, as well as to examine the current research trend on them.

SLAM LOCAL ACTIVITIES – Knowledge and experience transfer among BRAVO and CROA

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

We all require hard work at some point in our lives. It is difficult to reach greatness without putting in the necessary effort. In other words, if an idle individual wish to sit and wait for something else, they will get nothing. On the other side, someone who works hard all of the time will undoubtedly succeed in life, and this is precisely what this article will discuss.

As you already know, our project named Structured Learning for Awareness in Media” (SLAM) aims at enhancing young people’s awareness and critical thinking on the role of mass media as a challenge and precondition for more inclusive societies towards migrants and refugees. It also deals with the concept of fake news.

Fake news is a new subject of study that is attracting a lot of interest from academics as well as practitioners in the media. The line between the definition of fake news and other related concepts like news satire, yellow journalism, junk news, pseudo-news, hoax news, propaganda news, advertorial, false information, fake information, misinformation, disinformation, mal-information, alternative fact, and post-truth is obscure.

Fake news is on the rise as social media is being used as a source of information by young and old. However, the effect of age on the consumption of fake news on social media remains unknown.

In the text below, we are going to present to you one of the SLAM local activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina which dealt with and investigated the above-mentioned issues, as well as variations in false news consumption, the tendencies of media users in consuming, sharing, and believing fake news.

After the meeting with the Udruženje CROA, members of the Bosnian Representative Association for Valuable Opportunities – BRAVO got together on Saturday, January 15th, and discussed the importance of social networking sites, their advantages and disadvantages, and how NGOs can use these platforms more effectively when it comes to the activities’ dissemination.

These wonderful people talked about how to get more attention and improve statistics on posts, but also about content writing, SEO and hashtags.

One of the main ideas discussed is the difference in terms of fake news, false information, misinformation, disinformation, mal-information, and many more related terms. Participants mentioned clickbait headlines that do not have anything in common with the texts that follow them, shocking photos and videos that are taken out from the context, and the creation of those.

The purpose of this local activity was to define and discuss fake news and other related concepts, as well as to examine the current research trend on them.

BRAVO in Action: Raising Awareness on Media Literacy Skills

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

First local activity in Sarajevo

We live in a time when information, whether accurate or not, is sent around the world at the touch of a button. The information environment is huge and complicated. Misinformation (unintentionally false information) and disinformation (intentionally false information) play a significant role in influencing public opinion on vital topics such as politics, science, health, and current events.

Aware of this, as part of the dissemination activities for the project Structured Learning for Awareness in Media – SLAM, BRAVO volunteers organized one of the local activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina on January 8, where their organization operates.

The event hosted participants in both ways: online and offline.

It was an awareness-raising event where participants learned about fake news, false information, differences between the two, and their consequences on both opinion creation and society in general.

The participants had a greater understanding of how misleading information emerges and affects society in the twenty-first century as a result of this event. They've discovered how it can affect how people view and interact with others who have different personal opinions, life experiences, and cultural backgrounds.

Participants also learned how fake news and false information are spread on social media, and how to combat them. They discussed clickbait, shocking news headlines, fake photos and videos, and much more.

The first characteristics or indicators of “fake news” were discovered by a meaningful analysis of descriptions found in academic journals, trade publications, newspapers, and magazines, among other places. These characteristics are broken down into message or linguistic features, source and intention features, structural features, and network aspects, and can be beneficial when evaluating online content.

Midterm evaluation meeting in Nikšić, Montenegro

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

In the first week of November 2021, more precisely on the 6th and 7th day of the month, BRAVO representatives visited Nikšić, Montenegro, for the MIDTERM EVALUATION MEETING as a part of the Structured Learning for Awareness in Media – SLAM project.

What does it exactly mean? It means that project consortium partners, namely BRAVO – Bosnian Representative Association for Valuable Opportunities, Mladiinfo Montenegro, KOM 018 – Club for Youth Empowerment 018 / Klub za osnaživanje mladih 018, Mine Vaganti NGO, Асоциация за развитие на българския спорт /Bulgarian Sports Development Association, Youth for Social Changes Albania, and EPEKA Turkey, met and held a meeting to check and evaluate what they had done,  what was in the progress during the meeting, as well as to plan the activities they are going to do in the upcoming period. Some cool things are in front of the partners, and just two of them are the upcoming seminar in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the manual which will put all information in one place. So, if you want to learn how media influence our opinion formation, stay with us.

Amazing project partners are currently doing some educational activities in their countries with their young people who will have a chance to extend their knowledge on fake news and fake media delivering that news, as well as news on migrants and refugees. Partners have created their calendars, and we kindly ask you to follow our website and social media for the upcoming activities and events.

As you can see, SLAM is all about raising awareness on fake news and fake media delivering it to the public – we are all facing it even without being aware. We want to get people to talk about it, discuss it and make their opinion. We want people to know the difference between fake information and fake news, develop critical thinking, recognize the real information, etc.

World Day of Press Freedom

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

May the third is known as the World Day of Press Freedom. But, let's be real, are they really free? How are the journalists treated? Are they able to freely investigate and objectively inform us about the new events in the surrounding and the world?

As we mentioned in one of our previous articles, the Balkans is a very tempestuous region with many downfalls. Eventhough the press freedom is guaranteed on the Balkans, this region lacks behind the other European countries, according to the Press Freedom Index. Bosnia and Herzegovina is placed on the 58th position, Albania on the 84th, North Macedonia on the 92nd position, Serbia is the 93rd, while Montenegro is on the 154th position.

We often witness attacks, harrasments and abusement of female journalists (as well as the male ones). Examples are Olivera Lakić, Živana Šušak Živković, Daško Milinović and many more. Civil society media organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) are very concerned about political influences on the country’s media. Free Media Help Line, a free legal aid program provided by the Association of BH Journalists, registered 45 cases concerning the violation of journalists’ rights in 2018. Five of those were brutal physical attacks, including one attempted murder. Among other violations the foremost frequent were political pressures and threats.

According to research by Mediacentar Sarajevo, due to a fall in advertising revenues, the media in B&H are getting increasingly hooked in to public finance. Subsidies and grants are allocated to the media during a non-transparent manner, while advertising revenues from public companies are exploited for political interests.

Media ownership remains under-regulated: there has been no law limiting media concentration of ownership since 2006 and no information on possible political influences is out there to the general public .

The polarised political climate, marked by constant verbal attacks and nationalist rhetoric, has created a hostile environment for press freedom. Editorial policies reflecting ethnic divisions and hate speech are ever more evident. Journalists are attacked for his or her ethnic origins also as what they write, especially about migration. Defamation suits by politicians often serve to intimidate journalists and deter them from pursuing their work. Manipulation of the media for political purposes continues, especially within the public broadcast media but also in privately-owned media (and online media in particular). Although implementation of the defamation laws has progressed, they still have a self-censorship effect on journalists. Nonetheless, investigative journalism plays a serious role in society and a number of other online media outlets have exposed significant cases of corruption. Yet no legislation has improved the general environment for journalists, no law on online media has been promulgated, and no progress has been made on media ownership transparency. The Covid-19 pandemic undermined and threatened press freedom in 2020. The government held press conferences without journalists being physically present, and officials avoided answering critical questions on the relevance of the government’s measures. Some authorities and state institutions directly obstructed journalists’ work, and in some cases, they even accused journalists of “inaccurate and malicious reporting”.

That being said, we want to warn of the importance of truthful media reporting, without political pressures which often lead to some political games and fake news.  Fake news—news articles that are intentionally and verifiably false designed to control people’s perceptions of reality—has been wont to influence politics and promote advertising. But it's also become a way to fire up and intensify social conflict. Stories that are untrue which intentionally mislead readers have caused growing mistrust among people. In some cases this mistrust leads to incivility, protest over imaginary events, or violence. It is time to stop this and allow journalists and other press workers to do their job properly, genuinely, without pressure and objectively.

Press freedom is the foundation of many other basic human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. Free media can call for accountability – raising awareness of clarity discourages corruption and human rights violations. The problems of marginalized groups and minorities can be heard. Accurate information and free media are the key to public discourse: they form common values and influence policies at the local, state and international levels. Freedom of the media is not limited only to investigative journalism – it also includes satirical texts, columns and editorials.

Migrant's Image in Bosnian – Herzegovinian Media

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Due to many years of conflicts and wars in the Middle East, a large number of residents from the countries of that area are trying to find their refuge on European soil. Since 2018, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been facing a large influx of migrants, who enter in our country often illegally. Since then, local media have become more actively involved in reporting on this population.

Since the beginning of the migrant crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the media, in most cases, have used the term migrants for these people. With the widespread xenophobia in our society, it seems that the media do not contribute to calming the situation, when it comes to the migrant crisis, and newspaper articles are written with the intention of attracting as many readers as possible, without checking information about the certain events. Media with more empathy for this group of people make a distinction between different groups, and use names like people on the move and refugees, although their number is very small.

According to international and laws in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a refugee is any foreigner who has fled the country of origin due to war or fear of persecution, while a migrant is any person who has left the country of origin, usually for economic reasons. An analysis of the most – read media in Bosnia and Herzegovina shows that very few of them have written about this difference, trying to explain to the public the difference between the two terms.

Some of them are N1, Anadolu Agency – Bosnian service, VOA in Bosnian and BUKA. Further, it seems that in Bosnia and Herzegovina the least mentioned group in the media are asylum seekers, the people who have applied for asylum in our country, whereby they can receive one of the two forms of international protection (refugee status or subsidiary protection).

All these groups in the Bosnian-Herzegovinian media are mostly called migrants, and the articles about them are usually full of negative news. Some of them have the following titles: “Migrants who committed an armed robbery in Zenica caught in Donji Vakuf”, “Details of the horrific crime near Tešanj: Migrant stabbed with knife in the head”, “A migrant, accused of rape and infected with HIV, has escaped”, etc. By the number of news that speak negatively about this population, the site by name antimigrant.ba is in the forefront, using very often pejoratives in its articles, such as brothers in faith, lovers of people on the move , brothers from ISIS, ”miserable” muhajirs , etc., which makes readers to feel more disdain toward migrants.

Most of the sources used by the Bosnian media in reporting on migrants are unreliable and are often based on eyewitness comments, when it comes to committing crimes, without waiting for an official report from the authorities.

Media that are better equipped and have a larger structure and coverage are often sources of smaller media with regional character, although neither of them shows serious attention for fact-checking. The most famous case of false news-spreading is related to the murder of a young man from Ilidža, where a migrant of Moroccan origin was accused of that crime. Shortly afterwards, news of the event have been spread through media portals, with a prominent image of the first defendant. A few days later, the police arrested a person who matched the description, although it turned out shortly afterwards that he was not a murderer, but a Moroccan with a similar appearance. However, this did not stop the Bosnian media from reporting on the latter as a murderer, without waiting for confirmation of identity by the competent authorities.

Finally, it should be emphasized that most media write and act according to the directives of their governing structures, which are often different political parties. Depending on their attitude towards the migrant issue, the tone of media reporting is also directed (e.g. RTRS, Bljesak.info, STAV Magazine, etc.).

Negative views of migrants and refugees have become a practice in the media, creating prejudices and stereotypes about them that lead to social exclusion.

Roma people in the eyes of media during the migrant crisis

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Anti-Roma racism, anti-Gypsyism, anti-Romaism, Romaphobia… – why do our neighbors bother us? Why do we have prejudices against diversity and dissimilarity? Isn’t that considered to be wealth and beauty?

The Romani people, in most countries that are members of the SLAM project, are the largest national minority, but this position and status in society have not given them any honors and privileges. Instead, the conditions in which they live are, to put it mildly, catastrophic. The latest research by the Team for Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction of the Government of the Republic of Serbia is proof of this statement: 32,000 Roma do not have access to proper water, then 24,000 of them do not have electricity, and 93,000 Roma do not have sewerage. However, this is not the end of the problems they are facing. Romani people do not have access to health and social services, employment, education… The coronavirus pandemic has further aggravated all these problems. During the mentioned pandemic, experts advise us to keep a social distance, but that distance is always and everywhere present towards the Roma, especially during the crisis. According to the research, a large number of the population shows a moderate to high level of social distance towards Roma.

We are witnessing the ghettoization of the Roma population. The media contributes greatly to this. Roma are instrumentalized in accordance with the daily political desires of the government. The government's discourse is accepted, especially when it comes to Roma and migrants. Roma asylum seekers are often considered to be “fake” by political representatives and the media. One can also hear in the media that the Roma themselves are to blame for their poverty and poor living conditions because that is their tradition.

If we compare the writing of media and their coverage of Roma and migrants, this could be summarized as follows. Since the beginning of the migrant crisis, the media have had different criteria for Roma and Migrants. While migrant camps are visited almost on a daily basis and articles about that population are written with a certain amount of empathy and understanding in order to solve this issue, reporting on Roma is quite the opposite. The Roma are interesting to the media only on exceptional occasions, when some international days related to the Roma are celebrated, but even then there are numerous stereotypes and prejudices. The social maladaptation of Roma to the environment in which they live is almost always mentioned. The executive director of the Roma Information Center “Kali Sara”, Sanela Bešić, believes that the attitude of the media towards Roma and their communities is a mirror of the politicians’ attitude, but also the attitude of the entire society and its laws.

Both migrants and Roma appear in the fake news – as separate groups, but also together. It is often the case that Roma present themselves as migrants and beg. We are also witnessing migrants being accused of criminal acts, murders and similar things, but in fact these acts are committed by Roma. Fake news and hate speech against migrants are also present on social networks, and among them the leader is Facebook group “Movement STOP settlement of migrants” that was created on March 25, 2020 and has over 300.000 members, according to Voice journalists. The most drastic examples are calls to kill and expel migrants. Disparaging and stereotyping of that population is second in frequency. Some of the headlines that link migrants to criminal activities are: “Father of a young man attacked in Sarajevo: Migrants broke his skull, the operation lasted 3 and a half hours.”, “A boy was intercepted at the train station, MIGRANTS ARE SUSPECTED.” , “THREE HOURS OPERATED IN HOSPITAL: Migrants brutally beat a minor in Sarajevo.” The media serve fake news, hate speech and generalization, and the institutions do not prevent this, nor the racist messages that can be found in the comments on the articles.

Migrants, as well as the Roma national minority, are still associated with criminal acts, violence, and security breaches. Some Kosovo media falsely reported that a Roma girl kidnapped children, which led to the girl being physically assaulted twice.

Is it fair, okay, human to believe in hear-say stories and false rumors, and create prejudices? The critical consciousness of the wider masses is not sufficiently developed. We blindly trust the media, which are increasingly using clickbait and false statements, and which are categorized as a crime act, rather than accurate and verified information.

However, this is not the only example of an attack on Romani population. Protests and violence against Roma, as well as various intimidations, are present in many countries. Italian authorities intend to expel all Roma who do not have Italian citizenship. In addition, the demolition of Roma camps without the provision of replacement accommodation has become increasingly common in Italy.

When it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina, small steps have been taken to protect Roma rights, but this is still “not in bloom”. The phrases “I will give you to the gypsies” and “The gypsy woman will steal you” can often be heard among people. Those sentences are derogatory, discriminatory and unpleasant to hear. The report on the position of Roma in B&H showed that the state does not provide enough basic rights for Roma. Crimes committed out of hatred against Roma are not uncommon and the lack of an appropriate response from the authorities can create a climate of impunity and deepen the experience of marginalization.

If we want to comment on crimes committed by Roma – there are no statistics for Roma in the registers of crimes and misdemeanors, and it is not possible to determine whether the assumption that Roma have a high degree of violation of the law is really correct and trustworthy.

Through direct normative influence, the media influence the creation of prejudices, but also their augmentation. Minority groups in the media are portrayed through negative bias both qualitatively and quantitatively. Why is it like that? The answer is simple – the media are market-oriented towards the majority, the dominant group, because of the political and economic power that the group possesses. In the last few years, Roma have been marginally present in the media space, while a significant percentage of attention has been paid to migrants. Media writing is stereotypical for both categories and depends on daily politics, which uses media to create public opinion about migrants and pushes Roma to the margins of society. We are increasingly witnessing “sensational” reporting by the media that transmit the information served without their analysis, verification, without initiative and research approach.

Every event in which the actors are members of the Roma minority points to the fact that the media have double criteria: one for the Roma and the other for the rest.

It is certain that triviality, sensation and extreme superficiality in the approach to the treatment of topics in the media today, have sponsored that topics about the Roma and their lives are treated without any empathy and will to influence the much-needed changes. Emphasis is placed on peripheral details, not on the essence. This does not help anyone, and it harms the Roma community the most, about which prejudices are only further created and strengthened. And as a conclusion to all of the above, it would be the following: Roma are collateral damage to political action as a whole.

 

SLAM survey analysis

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Fake information is considered to be synonymous with fake news? Experts now advise against using the phrase “fake news” or at least limiting its use because it is closely associated with politics, and this relationship can serve to reduce the scope of the problem. While fake news is more specifically defined as political news articles, the phrase false information is preferable because it may refer to a wide variety of disinformation spanning areas such as health, the environment, and economics across all platforms and genres.

As you are already familiar with, the SLAM project, conducted by Bosnian Representative Association for Valuable Opportunities – BRAVO (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Mine Vaganti NGO (Italy), Bulgarian Sport Development Association – BSDA (Bulgaria), Y.S.C. (Albania), Club for Youth Empowerment 018 – KOM18 (Serbia), NGO Mladiinfo Montenegro (m!M), and Egitim Programlari ve Evrensel ve Kulturel Aktiviteler Dernegi – EPEKA (Turkey), is focused on fake news and information, their detection and prevention.

In the past few months, the above-mentioned project consortium has conducted a survey on fake news among residents of seven countries, and we are presenting the survey results below.

As many as 117 respondents took part in the survey. The first question was related to age and 65%, or 76 participants, stated that their age range is 18 – 24. The following age range (25 to 30 years) was chosen by 17.9% or 21 participants. On the other hand, eight respondents, or 6.8%, said that they are 31 – 36 years old. As many as six answerers (5.1%) stated that their age range is from 37 to 45 years. Last, but not least, four participants (3.4%) answered they are over 45 years old, while 1.7%, or 2 participants, were under 18.

2

Regarding the second question about participants’ gender, 59% of participants, or 69 of them, were females, while 47 participants (40.2%) were males. Only one person, which statistically makes 0.9%, chose the option “Prefer not to say”.

3

Furthermore, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the most chosen option among the respondents – 55.6%, or 65 of survey takers stated this is the country they come from. Thirteen participants (11.1%) chose Turkey, while nine respondents (7.7%) chose Bulgaria. Both Montenegro, Italy and Albania were selected by eight participants, or 6.8 per cent. Six participants (5.1%) picked Serbia as their country.

Henceforth, survey became more precisely oriented towards media, fake news and migrants. That being said, let us see which are the most commonly used devices.

Mostly used devices are: Desktop PC – 6 participants, Laptop – 21 participants, Tablet – 1 participant, Smartphone – 89 participants

Least used devices, according to the survey, are: Desktop PC – 26 participants, Laptop – 46 participants, Tablet – 11, Smartphone – 18 participants, TV – 16 participants

Based on the survey responses, participants never use: Desktop PC – 20 participants, Laptop – 5 participants, Tablet – 69 participants, Smartphone – 2 participants, TV – 17 participants

Option “I don’t own any.” is chosen by 4 participants.

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Next question was “How much time do you spend on your device(s)?” and 94 respondents (80.3%) said they spend over three hours using their device(s). As many as 21 participants (17.9%) claimed they spend between one and two hours on their device(s). Two participants (1.7%) chose the option “less than an hour”.

Next point in the survey is related to social networking sites (SNSs) and their usage. On the chart it can be seen that Instagram, Facebook, and Viber are the most commonly used SNSs, respectively. Telegram, TikTok, Twitter, and Snapchat are social networking sites that most people never use.

Facebook – mostly used by: 71 participants, least used by: 36 participants, never used by: 7 participants

Instagram – mostly used by: 88 participants, least used by: 12 participants, never used by: 16 participants

Twitter – mostly used by: 9 respondents, least used by: 21 respondents, never used by: 78 respondents

LinkedIn – mostly used by: 9 people, least used by: 44 people, never used by: 55 people

Snapchat – mostly used by: 13 participants, least used by: 22 participants, never used by: 72 participants

TikTok – mostly used by: 13 respondents, least used by: 18 respondents, never used by: 77 respondents

WhatsApp – mostly used by: 48 answerers, least used by: 36 answerers, never used by: 24 answerers

Viber – mostly used by: 42 examinees, least used by: 41 examinees, never used by: 27 examinees

Telegram – mostly used by: 4 assenters, least used by: 21 assenters, never used by: 81 assenters

Next question, as you can see on the chart below, was how much time people spend on reading news online. Nearly half percentage of testees (49.1%, 57 participants) chose the option “1-2 hours”. Option “Less than an hour” was chosen by 33.6% (39 participants), while 17.2% (20 participants) said they spend over three hours reading news on the Internet.

According to the survey, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, klix.ba, Radio Sarajevo and Dnevni avaz are the news sites which are participants’ go – to.

The next thing the consortium dealt with was on the basis of which some news could be trusted. Authority/ Source of the information was chosen by 85 participants (72,6%, while relevance was chosen by 50 participants (42,7%). Accuracy was selected by 35 participants (29,9%), timeliness of the information was selected by 32 participants (27,4%), and the purpose was picked by 28 participants (23,9%).

Do respondents fall for fake news, thinking it is real? As many as 83 participants (70.9%) said that they had been fooled by fake news thinking it’s real news, while 24 participants (20.5%) chose the option “maybe”. Ten participants (8.5%) said that they had not been fooled by fake news.

Next question was related to the level of “literacy” increased by the usage of technology and social media. A large number of participants, more precisely 73 of them (6.,4%) stated that they believe technology and social media made them a smarter/more informed person. As many as 29 participants (24.8%) chose the option “maybe”, while 12.8% (15 participants) claimed that technology did not make them smarter or more informed.

The upcoming set of questions and answers is very interesting. It deals with censorship. The suppression of speech, public communication, or other information is referred to as censorship. This could be justified if the material is deemed offensive, damaging, sensitive, or “inconvenient.”

 

Twelfth question was related to “ordinary” people and their free expression of opinion. Respondents could choose a “grade” from one to five, where one means “completely disagree”, while five means “completely agree”. A number of 12 participants (10.3%) picked the option 1, complete disagreement with the statement “People can say what they want without censorship.” As many as 19 participants (16.2%) stated that they disagree with the above – mentioned statement. Thirty-four participants (29.1%) were neutral about this question. Thirty participants (25.6%) agreed that they can freely express their opinions and ideas, while 22 participants (18.8%) completely agreed on the same thing.

Furthermore, the consortium asked the same question, but this time for media – are they able to report without suppression and censorship. Twenty – two respondents (18.8%) completely disagreed with the statement “The media can report news without censorship”, while 15 participants (12.8%) disagreed on the same statement. Thirty – four testees (29.1%) were neutral, whereas 24 participants (20.5%) agreed with the afore – mentioned statement. At the same time, 22 participants (18.8%) completely agreed that media can freely report news without repression.

Next statement was “People can use the Internet without censorship” and most respondents, 29 of them (24.8%) completely agreed with it. As many as 28 participants (23.9%) agreed with the same statement. Twenty – six participants (22.2%) were neutral, while 21 respondents (17.9%) disagreed with the above – noted statement. At the same time, 13 participants (11.1%) completely disagreed on this issue.

Regarding the topics which are most often considered as fake news, vaccine news is mostly recognized as such (75 participants, or 67%). News about politicians is being stated by 70 participants (62.5%) as fake news, while 47 participants (42%) claimed news related to migrants is often fake. News related to Roma people is being chosen by 17 participants (15.2%), while news about very important persons (VIP) and their life is stated to be fake by 2 participants.

The last question was particularly related to migrants and news about this population. Respondents were mostly neutral whether this kind of news is true (59 participants, 51.3%). Twenty – seven participants (23.5%) disagreed with the statement that the news about migrants is true, while 13 participants (11.3%) completely disagreed with this statement. At the same time, 11 participants (9.6%) agreed with this statement, and 5 participants (4.3%) completely agreed that the news about migrants is true.

In order to solve the problem shown in chart no. 10, the results of the survey presented will be of enormous importance in educating people about fake news. Based on the obtained data, the project partners will try to reduce the number of “victims” of fake news, increase tolerance, critical thinking, but also try to create the most inclusive environment for all. Stay tuned for all the activities.