Experts concerned about lower percentage of Lithuanians in EU checking information online

In 2021, 47% of all people aged 16 to 74 in the EU saw false or questionable information on news sites or social networks in the 3 months before the survey, compared to 38% in Lithuania.

However, only about a quarter (23%) of people verified the veracity of the information or content. In Lithuania, this share was 11 per cent and was the lowest.

“Verification takes effort. And it requires moving forward and being critical,” Prof. Aukse Balcutiene, head of the public communication department at Vytautas Magnus University, told BNS.

She says Eurostat figures show that the majority of people’s critical thinking is not ambitious and that they are not self-righteous. Plus, she says, checking information is characteristic of a slow lifestyle, and people are now the opposite of a fast lifestyle.

Meanwhile, Nerijus Maliukevicius from the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University said that “the ability to verify information is not innate but can be developed.” He thinks people should learn this from a young age.

“State policy is definitely important here. We need a strategy for that, with a visible effort to develop people as critical figures,” Balcytiene said.

Maliukevicius also agrees that this is a “matter of political will” to adapt to a changing environment.

“And it has to do not only with some Russian disinformation, but also with the information environment when all types of crimes are committed on social networks, as well as financial manipulations,” Maliukevicius said.

Low percentages of people checking information online were also reported in Romania (12%) and Poland (16%).

The share of people aged 16 to 74 who checked information found on online news sites or social networks in the previous 3 months was highest in the Netherlands (45%), followed by Luxembourg (41%) and Ireland (39%).

In the EU, people aged 16 to 74 mainly checked whether information was true by checking sources or finding other information on the internet (20%). People also verified the information by chatting with others offline or using sources other than the Internet (12%). The least popular method was to verify by following or participating in an Internet discussion about the information (7%).

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