Finland stops fake news

While everybody in the world is more or less influenced by fake news, there is one Scandinavian country that prides itself in dealing with it successfully: Finland. Sharing an extensive border with Russia the land of the 1001 lakes is long accustomed to the outside (read: Moscow) trying to clout things.

Click to listen to my radio talk (in Dutch)
Scroll down to the podcast of 17 December, 00:07:23 into the broadcast
VRT Radio 1, Nieuwe Feiten, 17 December 2019, presenter Lieven Vandenhaute

The success of Finland to stop all the mayhem that disturbs the news is based on several pillars. For starters: like in neighbouring Scandinavia kids already are trained in critical thinking of what the sources of information are. Teachers normally stimulate the students to look for information themselves, to check the credibility of the source and double-check if it produces fake news or not.

Moreover the trust in both media and official organisations is still relatively big in Finland. While the media in neighbouring Sweden are somewhat sensational in bringing the news, Finnish media are normally a bit more “boring”. Plus the Fins, used of balancing between Russia and the West since ages, are more accustomed to nuances in how to view Russia. The big powerful neighbour is treated with more respect, without losing critical thinking.

To help this critical thinking the Finnish government launched training courses in how to handle fake news and to recognize deep fake. About 10,000 people have already gone through this program, being guides to others. In March last year Helsinki even launched the awareness campaign The World’s Best Election, motivating Fins to think why the Finnish democracy is great and how to keep it that way.

Discarding fake news with the sword of wisdom is what the Fins believe have succeeded in. The land of the 1001 lakes might now be less open to strange “fairytales”. |

Feature photo by JIP

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