Reacting to disinformation. The multilevel EU fact-checking approach


The main objective of this article is to investigate the multilevel approach promoted and adopted by the European Union as a response to the fake news phenomenon. On the one hand, the multilevel approach rests on the integration of different territorial levels (local, national and international). On the other hand, it adopts a multi-actor strategy aiming at the hybridisation of competences and increasingly consolidated network strategies, thus trying to overcome the main limitations and inefficiencies of fact-checking and debunking practices. 

This article, besides reconstructing from a longitudinal perspective the main stages of development and actions linked to the multilevel strategy, analyses its concrete operationalization within the fact-checking network of the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO), a certified community of actors created in 2021, which counts 94 debunking projects spread across the various countries of the Union. Each project was analyzed with respect to 12 variables, which can be traced back to three dimensions, respectively: multi-territorial, multi-actor, and fact-checking practices. 

From the analysis, the following results emerge: regarding the multi-territoriality dimension, the EDMO network includes and integrates different territorial levels, but remains predominantly focused on the national dimension. Considering the multi-actor dimension, the research highlights that at the macro level the nature of the projects belonging to the network is varied, with an imbalance towards the private sector. Looking at the level of the individual actors (the micro level) involved, there is a low integration of professionalism and still a residual involvement of civil society. Finally, concerning the fact-checking practices the analysis reveals an excessive lack of homogeneity at the methodological level, highlighting the need to develop a common methodology at the European level. 


Disinformation, Fact-checking, Debunking, European Union, Multilevel approach, EDMO