Every fourth citizen of Montenegro says they have believed in misinformation once a week in the past year, and every tenth person once a day. This is shown by a public opinion survey conducted by the agency Damar for the needs of the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT).
The largest number of citizens, 27.8 percent of them, state that they believed in misinformation on a weekly basis in the past year, 23.9 percent on a monthly basis, while 11.2 percent of them believed in misinformation on a daily basis. Nearly one-fifth of citizens (18.5 percent) believe they have never believed in misinformation.
Just under half of the respondents (48.9 percent) indicate that they have noticed the highest number of disinformation on social media. Over a third mention domestic media (37.1 percent), and over a tenth mention regional media (12.1 percent).
More than half of the respondents (54 percent) believe that all media in Montenegro are the same and equally spread disinformation. 36 percent of citizens do not agree with this statement, while every tenth person does not have an opinion on this issue. Two-thirds of citizens believe that the average person in Montenegro doesn’t care about the accuracy of information but believes in what they want.
More than two-thirds of citizens of Montenegro (69 percent) believe that disinformation is a significant problem in Montenegro, with over a third (35.6 percent) stating that it represents a major problem for our country. In contrast, only 4.5 percent of citizens state that disinformation is not a problem at all in Montenegro. The research shows that the more educated citizens are, the more they consider disinformation to be a problem to a greater or lesser extent in Montenegrin society.
Although such a large number of citizens view disinformation as a problem in our country, at the same time, over two-thirds of them (68.4 percent) rate the performance of state institutions in the fight against disinformation as poor, with just over a quarter (25.5 percent) rating it as very poor. Only 16 percent of citizens rate the work of state institutions positively, and almost the same number (15.6 percent) have no opinion on the matter.
In the opinion of the majority of citizens (28.9 percent), the key role in preventing and combating disinformation in Montenegro should be played by the Agency for Electronic Media. Over a fifth (22.4 percent) believe that the government of Montenegro should play the key role in this matter, while almost every fifth citizen believes it should be the prosecution.
Nearly half of the respondents (49 percent) believe that imposing financial penalties would be the most effective measure to prevent and combat disinformation in Montenegro, while 45.6 percent believe that adopting a special act to combat disinformation would be more effective. Interestingly, citizens see introducing media literacy into school curricula (17.7 percent) and citizen education (18 percent) as the least favorable options for combating disinformation.
As many as 70.5 percent of citizens believe that the Government of Montenegro should take measures to restrict the publication of false information, even if it implies limiting freedom of speech, while 29.5 percent believe that protecting freedom of speech is a priority, even if it means the potential spread of false information.
Citizens do not consult authorities when they suspect misinformation.
When they believe that certain information in the media or on the Internet is false, the largest number of respondents (27.5 percent) mostly consults with friends or family. Only one percent of citizens consult relevant state institutions.
More than three-quarters of citizens (77.3 percent) indicate that when reading information, they pay attention to the name of the media, while 61.5 percent pay attention to whether the title is biased. Only 53.9 percent of citizens pay attention to the name of the author of the text or the journalist. Similarly, 63.5 percent do not pay attention to whether there is information about the media’s editorial board on the website.
As much as 72 percent of citizens believe they can recognize fake news, while less than a fifth (18.8 percent) believe they cannot do so.
Moreover, every second respondent believes, for themselves, that they can better identify fake news than the average person in Montenegro.
Less than half of citizens (46 percent) believe that the average person in Montenegro can recognize fake news.
The public opinion survey was conducted from February 6th to 16th, with a sample of 1000 citizens.
This project is funded by the US Embassy in Podgorica. The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations presented here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US State Department/Government.
Darvin Murić, Chief Editor of Raskrinkavanje.me portal.