Once spread deliberately or with an intent to weaponize it, misinformation becomes disinformationdisinformation is understood as verifiably false or misleading information that is created, presented and spreaded for economic gain or to intentionally deceive the public, and may cause public harm. Big online disinformation campaigns are widely used by domestic and foreign actors to show distrust and harm the democracies by hindering citizens in making informed decisions. They also often support radical and extremista person who goes to extremes, especially in political matters ideas and activities. As a result, this can create social tensions, with serious potential consequences for national security.
The European Union as a whole is making efforts to research, educate and raise awareness about fake news. Individually, Member States have begun to create legislation on the issue. Although most countries have similar views on the stance that misinformation and disinformation online is a problem for democracy, opinions are divided when it comes to the decision of who has to act and how. In the last years, the Member States have approached this issue differently, such as Germany, France and the UK.
The protection of fundamental rights, such as the freedom of speech and expression, through legislation, is something the Member States do on a national level. The Charter of fundamental Rights of the European Union does not provide the European Commission with the power to intervene in the area of fundamental rights. In addition, it is difficult for the EU to take action against the big tech companies such as Facebook as they have a monopolyexclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market concerning social media platforms.
Europe is not immune to misinformation and social media has proven to have a huge influence on the public opinion. In general, misinformation exploits freedom of expression and can be a danger to the integrity of democracies. Should the governments in the EU impose stricter sanctions on social media sites, censor everything or should they leave digital discourse as a completely free space of expression?