With the development of contemporary social technology, we are witnessing a new phenomenon: information pollution on a global scale. Its direct and indirect impacts are difficult to quantify, but long-term implications of dis-information campaigns are most worrying.

The report on “Information Disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policy making” is an attempt to comprehensively examine information disorder, its related challenges, and to outline ways to address information pollution.

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The report - assessing challenges The report - assessing challenges
Reflecting on Terminology Reflecting on Terminology

The report consciously refrains from using the term ‘fake news’ which is woefully inadequate to effectively capture the complexity of the phenomenon of information pollution, not to mention that it is increasingly becoming politicised.

The report therefore introduces a new conceptual framework for examining information disorder, identifying the three different types: mis-, dis- and mal-information. The differences between these three types of information are described using the dimensions of harm and falseness:

Mis-information is when false information is shared, but no harm is meant.
Dis-information is when false information is knowingly shared to cause harm.
Mal-information is when genuine information is shared to cause harm, often by moving information designed to stay private into the public sphere. 
Understanding the mechanism Understanding the mechanism

In trying to understand examples of information disorder, the report proposes to consider three elements:

Similarly, the life of an example of information disorder is considered as having three phases:                                               
  1. Agent. Who were the ‘agents’ that created, produced and distributed the example, and what was their motivation?

  2. Message. What type of message was it? What format did it take? What were the characteristics?

  3. Interpreter. When the message was received by someone, how did they interpret the message? What action, if any, did they take?

  1. Creation. The message is created.
     

  2. Production. The message is turned into a media product.
     

  3. Distribution.The message is distributed or made public.


Dissecting information disorder in this manner helps to understand the nuances. A clear vision of the mechanism and all its elements allows for an understanding of who are the actors involved, motivations of each of them, assessing the scale and identifying ways to address the issue. 

Revealing the causes Revealing the causes
Identifying Solutions Identifying Solutions
Planning future steps Planning future steps

Aware of the close correlation between the information disorder phenomenon and the issue of quality journalism, as well as with digital and media literacy of internet users in general, the Council of Europe has tasked its Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI) to carry out further research and standard-setting in the relevant fields.

The Council of Europe will continue to comprehensively address the phenomenon.
Two expert groups,

will explore in more detail what member states may do to promote a favourable environment for an independent, diverse and pluralistic media environment in which societies can both trust and actively participate in.