What is fake news? Educational materials have been prepared by National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) for the European Media Literacy Week

Published: 19 March 2019

The latest initiative of the European Commission, the European Media Literacy Week, takes place between 18 and 22 March. On this occasion, the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) assembled infographics and relevant lesson plans about fake news, which are suitable for use at schools, and recommends sponsored online articles for adult audiences. On this thematic week, EU member states will raise awareness of the significance of media literacy, helping with the recognition of fake news as a result of which critically solid and valid decisions can be made. In the battle against disinformation — even though technological and regulatory measures play an important role in this regard — the development of media literacy remains a key issue.

During the European Media Literacy Week, NMHH and its media literacy education centre Bűvösvölgy (Magic Valley) are focusing on the struggle against fake news. Many actors influence the quantity and spread of fake news: besides the media content creators and the broadcasters and disseminators of the news, the citizen itself is also a key factor with his ability to understand and interpret.

Information for young people and adults

To expand the educational potential of the topic, the educators of Magic Valley — in cooperation with the fact-checking site Urbanlegends.hu — have prepared educational aids for the youth to enable a more in-depth understanding of the subject, by processing it either at home or at school. On the buvosvolgy.hu/alhirek/ site, lesson plans adjusted for three age brackets — 10-13-year olds, 14-16-year olds, and 17-18-year olds —, including five infographics that provide an overview of the types of and motivations for fake news in accordance with various criteria, e.g. what is fake news, how it works, how it can be verified, and what makes a disseminator of news reliable. The site’s content is available for use free of charge, and is advertised by the NMHH’s Facebook campaign and also conveyed to educators.

Additionally — to address adult news consumers — NMHH has cooperated with some  online news portals to write sponsored articles. These, due to their professional or thematic orientation, are capable of accurately perceiving the logic behind the spread of certain fake news. The articles address famous cases of fake news, where misleading and unfounded information harmed the economy, medical care, or situations in everyday life. The articles are being published this week, with the expectation to educate many tens of thousands of readers.

The campaign’s overall objective is to enable children and adults alike to realize their own vulnerability with the aid of the materials, and to encourage them to gain a more deliberate stance in becoming informed users and news sharers.

The role of media literacy in becoming informed — an outlook to the European Union

A high level of media literacy is a key factor to enable us, citizens, to make informed decisions in the digital age. Media literacy is a pre-requisite for a vibrant, modern democracy, and a hot topic with regard to the approaching 2019 European Parliament elections, as well. The key actors and the legal regulatory framework of the digital environment can do a great deal to mitigate harmful effects, but without the news consumers they cannot resolve the problem of fake news on their own.

The European Commission organized the European Media Literacy Week for the first time to underline, throughout the entire community, the societal importance of media literacy. Last year, the Commission also created the self-regulatory Code of Practice on Disinformation as well — to reinforce the fight against disinformation campaigns jeopardizing democratic political processes, the physical and mental well-being of EU citizens, their environment and safety, and their economic prosperity. The social media platforms that have signed the Code (Facebook, Google, Twitter) and the associations representing the advertisers are closely monitored by the European Commission, and should the self-regulation prove to be ineffective, potential regulatory measures may be undertaken by the Commission.


NMHH, which is also operating the Magic Valley Educational Centres, has no authorisation to verify or sanction misleading online news sources. However, it clearly aims to advance conscious consumer behaviour with non-legal tools in order to provide responsible and well informed citizens with useful information and tools. The infographics and lesson plans are educational recommendations based on international experience and do not express the Authority’s official position in any specific case.