About 150 experts from all around the world gathered in Sarajevo today for the opening of the eighth annual POINT conference focusing on political accountability and new technologies. The three-day event organized by the ACTION SEE network of civil society associations from the entire region kicked off with a discussion on the state of disinformation in the Balkans.
At the beginning of the panel, the Head of Communications at the EU Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina Jamila Milovic-Halilovic introduced the EU-funded research conducted by the internationally recognized fact-checking platform Raskrinkavanje.ba which pointed to the spreading patterns of online disinformation in BiH. “Knowledge, skills and tools how to recognise, prevent and tackle disinformation among the public and institutions in BiH leave a lot to be desired, ” Milovic-Halilovic said,, adding that the EU supported the production of this comprehensive 12-month research for the first time in the region.
One of the research co-authors Tijana Cvijeticanin said that research disclosed not only which media outlets are main sources and distributors of disinformation, but also investigated the complex relations among them. “Algorithm analysis was conducted to establish whether there are groups of media that are prone to continuously, regularly and frequently using each other as sources and redistributors of the same disinformation,” Cvijeticanin stressed.
Fact checking experts from Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia taking part in the panel discussion, stressed that combating disinformation is not only about debunking specific false information, but also counter-balancing the narrative and agenda it promotes in public discourse.
Milovic-Halilovic concluded by saying that the efforts to tackle disinformation in the case of BiH should avail of the evidence-based data presented in the research, and that media professionals, regulatory agencies and education sector partners need to work hand in hand with fact-checking networks in order to combat disinformation. “Fact-checking matters,” she concluded.