Finland’s proactive strategy in fighting fake news has propelled it to be the leading country in the fight against disinformation. Numerous attacks from their Russian neighbors spurred the strategy of combatting disinformation.
Across Europe, fake news was already a problem, but the spread of coronavirus exacerbated by playing to people’s negative impulses. It was not long after the pandemic when 5G masts started going up in frames or being attacked by individuals who believed they were contributing to the spread of the virus.
The spread of fake news
The situation would only get worse, and after covid vaccines were approved in the UK, anti-vaccine campaigners took to the street shouting “Covid is a hoax” at doctors and nurses leaving London’s St Thomas’ hospital on New Year’s Eve.
In many countries, the problem of fake news was evident from the start, including the UK, in which the government had made a commitment to fight fake news as early as 2017.
However, in Finland, they had found a working solution that made it rank top in the European annual index measuring resistance to misinformation and disinformation.
They realized that the fight against disinformation would only be possible if children were taught how to recognize fake news from an early age.
In 2014, the government included media literacy that had been in use since the 1970s in the school curriculum. The idea was that by integrating the content in the school curriculum as early as kindergarten, they would be able to read sources critically and become less affected by disinformation.
Part of the learning was teaching students how to recognize fake news stories. Students were also taught about how to make use of fact-checking websites to verify news sources.
Students are also taught how to recognize dubious news and manipulated statistics. They are also taught to recognize not just news sources but artistic work that may be digitally altered. History propaganda campaigns are also part of disinformation campaigns that students are taught about.