Disinformation: Why facts matter in the European elections

Concept image of fake news, or disinformation
© iStock/Vladimir_Timofeev

Joe Lynam, a former business correspondent at the BBC, and now Disinformation Specialist at the European Commission spoke about why facts matter in the run up to the European elections.

According to the European Commission, “His role is to tackle the scourge of Disinformation or ‘fake news’ as some in the White House like to call it.” Lynam chaired a panel discussion titled “How to fix our societies: facts, values, perceptions and citizen engagement” at the “Science Meets Parliaments: The role of science in 21st century policymaking” conference at the European Parliament, Brussels. SciTech Europa attended and listened to Lynam’s opening address.

The importance of truth in the European elections

Lynam stated: “Facts matter. I left the BBC after 17 and a half years because I was really worried about disinformation – fake news…Disinformation is a genuine concern, as we in this building, all of us look forward to the European elections. We want them to be free and fair. We want the voters to make informed decisions. We don’t want them to be lied to. ”

He continued by explaining that he beliefs “the practitioners of disinformation” act on the ‘5 Ds’:

•Dismiss;
•Distort;
•Distract;
•Dismay; and
•Doubt.

Does fake news cause doubt in the European Union?

“They sell doubt,” he concludes, “Doubt in our newspapers, doubt in our governments, doubt in our institutions, doubt in the European Union, doubt in science. And so this is why we need to fight disinformation. Because we value the most important thing of all in democracy – truth. We need to tell it, and we need to make sure that other people hear it so they can make those informed decisions. “

More from Science Meets Parliament

The conference intended to join policy-makers and scientists to address the challenges of our time. The conference also presented the initial findings of the Joint Research Centre’s Enlightenment 2.0 programme on citizen’s perceptions and values and MEPs’ views on the societal impacts of Artificial Intelligence.

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