Fake news is a global problem that challenges how we share information and perceive the world around us. Evidence of home-grown and foreign online influence operations has caused alarm and concern among politicians and voters. There are fears that democratic institutions and national elections are under threat from mis-, dis-, and mal-information shared on a huge scale online and on social media platforms. Mob lynchings and other violence based on false rumours have turned fake news into an emergency in some parts of the world, costing lives and causing significant problems for societies. This has prompted a number of governments to adopt measures ranging from legislative and legal action to media literacy and public awareness campaigns to fight the spread of disinformation.

In addition, international pressure on tech and social media giants has been increasing to urgently address the spread of disinformation on their platforms or face the possibility of fines or regulation. However, rights groups have also argued that the fight against disinformation and fake news has been used to make unjustified arrests or pass repressive laws that primarily aim to silence political dissent and limit freedom of speech and expression.

In this report, BBC Monitoring’s specialist Disinformation Team investigates fake news landscapes around the world and analyses a range of measures adopted by governments to combat disinformation. The analysis provides geopolitical context with timely, relevant examples from 19 countries in four continents (with a particular focus on European nations). The team also reports on the European Union because of its size, power, and influence.

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