Finland tops the list of European countries deemed the most resilient to misinformation in classroom milieu, per findings of the Media Literacy Index, compiled by the Open Society Institute Sofia.
According to an article published on World Economic Forum Website, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands are among the top nations of the world that impart digital literacy and critical thinking skills to school children to protect them from the culture of disinformation. Denmark was ranked second in the list, followed by the Netherlands, Sweden and Estonia. Macedonia, Turkey and Albania were ranked at the bottom three spots of the index respectively.
Policymakers around the world are highly concerned of the fake news culture, voicing the need to combat it to the earliest. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report, published back in 2013, “digital wildfires” had the potential to spread misinformation rapidly. While some countries, including Germany and France, were drafting legislation to fight the culture of fake news, others were of the view that the act could possibly jeopardize free speech.
The OSI report argues that awareness and education were the best possible solutions to combat the culture of disinformation. “High-quality education and having more and more educated people is a prerequisite for tackling the negative effects of fake news and post-truth,” the Media Literacy Index’s report added. “While some regulation is necessary, education seems to be the best all-around solution.”
Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council told the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in September that “We must tackle this issue through improved news literacy, and it is the task of our educators and society at large to teach children how to use doubt intelligently and to understand that uncertainty can be quantified and measured.”
Research studies highlight a positive relationship was present between resilience to fake news and the level of education. The OSI report also asserts that increased levels of knowledge and better critical-thinking skills diminish the threats imposed by fabricated information.
Finnish fact-checking organisation Faktabaari (FactBar) employs different fact-checking methods at Finish schools and believes good research skills, coupled with better critical thinking skills were vital for schoolchildren. It also outlines three areas to be aware of which included misinformation (faulty information or errors), disinformation, such as frauds, and mal-information, stories that intend to damage someone’s reputation.
Marin Lessenski, Programme Director for European Policies at OSI-Sofia said “Finland’s government considers strong public education system as the main tool to resist information warfare against the country. Widespread critical-thinking skills and coherent government response are key to resisting fake-news campaigns.”