Techniques used to disseminate misinformation are being advanced by the day and that is why it is necessary to improve the quality of the media, media literacy and to build democratic political culture founded on well-argumented criticism. However, it is also essential to regulate digital platforms and responsible authorities, heard the conference on the dissemination of fake news during the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Trust in social media is growing, trust in health staff declining
Croatian citizens don’t trust the government, nor judiciary, nor media and avoid listening to the news. More and more trust is placed in social media, while healthcare staff is less and less trusted, said Professor Marijana Grbeša-Zenzerović of the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb.
As much as half of the Croatian population believes that the virus emerged in a government laboratory whereas in Denmark only 6% believe in that. Grbeša-Zenzerović also underscored that citizens trust EU institutions more than national ones.
6 in 10 Croats say they come across misinformation at least once a week
Milica Vučković, a lecturer from the faculty, said that 62% of Croatian citizens assess that they come across misinformation at least once a week. They often mention the “effect of a third person,” people are aware of misinformation and consider that they will not be duped by fake news or manipulative claims.
We are seeing more sophisticated models of disseminating misinformation which is more difficult to reveal. The fact that some people think they are immune to fake news is a big problem, she said.
“Science doesn’t always have all the answers, which is then exploited by those who share misinformation and conspiracy theories. In addition to compromised media space and poor communication by politicians, it is a fact that it isn’t easy to communicate about science in a comprehensible way,” warned Vučković.
The postulates of news reporting envisage that media outlets ought to report in a well-balanced, unbiased, and fair manner and that all sides should be presented. This is why media outlets often give the same space to the arguments for COVID vaccination and to those against vaccination, despite the fact that there is a consensus in the scientific community that inoculation helps in the fight against disease, said Mato Brautović from the University of Dubrovnik.
“The more citizens are exposed to traditional media reporting in line with that postulate, the more they will trust it. A balanced report does not necessarily mean 50:50, or those arguments of ‘anti-vaxxers’ and ‘vaxers’ should be presented in the same amount,” he said.
Speaking about why people trust fake news, Professor Andrea Vranić from the Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb said that people had a limited capacity to process the information they receive.
“Based on one article, we will generalize and create an attitude while emotions will motivate us to act, as long as it primarily has to do with fear for oneself and one’s loved ones,” she said.
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