Владимир Петрески, Фото: Фисник Џелили/Порталб.мк

The malign influences which utilize disinformation spreads in the Western Balkans have a regional nature, and, as a result, one disinformation is crossing the border from one country to another and then it returns to the country of origin in a very degenerated form, and this can cause even greater damage, pinpointed Vladimir Petreski, the Editor-in-Chief of “Truthmeter.mk in his discussion in the “Stories from the region and beyond – part 1′ session of the POINT Conference (Political Accountability and New Technologies) that was held last week in Sarajevo, writes Portalb.mk.

According to Petreski, the fact-checking work at Metamorphosis Foundation in the last 12 years has shown that the need for this type of work is increasing day by day. He also stressed that currently the disinformation is used for spreading foreign undemocratic and malicious influences both in North Macedonia and in the region. He said that in the past in North Macedonia it had been difficult to talk on this subject, but today, the situation has changed.

“We decided to work more seriously on this issue in the forthcoming period. Also, we realize that the general public is ready for a project of this kind. In March, in North Macedonia we conducted a poll on national level asking the respondents about the disinformation and we received really interesting results. 90% of them think that the disinformation is a serious problem and more than 80% consider that the Government should take action, e.g. to come up with a bill on disinformation,” Petreski said.

Vladimir Petreski (left). Photo: Fisnik Xhelili/Portalb.mk

Therefore, the public now is ready to dig deeper in order to comb out the disinformation.

Regarding the disinformation and the foreign influences, Petreski said that it is very important to talk about this issue on the regional level. According to him, despite the political divisions in the Western Balkans, the media scenes are interconnected since the languages are similar, the cultures are close, and for decades, the people were used to reading certain media, so it is not very difficult for the disinformation to pass from one place to another and to spread quickly.

Petreski stressed that the Metamorphosis Foundation in the next three years will be fully engaged in this field.

“The project that we are going to work on in the next three years is “Western Balkans Anti Disinformation Hub”. We will be uncovering the malign influences through watchdog journalism and data journalism. There will be many products, plenty of fact-checking, analyses, and we shall be following the media to be really able to show where these malign influences come from. We are going to work on the regional level, with our longstanding partners “Why Not” from Bosnia and Herzegovina, “International and Security Affairs Centre” from Serbia, “Center for Democratic Transition” from Montenegro, “Faktoje” from Albania and  the international center forsecurity action -Serbia, The Center for democratic transition – Montenegro, Faktoje – Albanija, and “Sbunker” from Kosovo,” Petreski explained.

At the panel discussion, Teona Tomashvili – a specialist working at the intersection of data, tech, and politics from the ForSet-Georgia and Hajtam Atef – the founder of eSquare from Egypt.

The panel on the subject of “Stories from the region and wider – first part” can be seen starting at 02:24 min.

The POINT conference is organized by members of the ACTION SEE network,  Metamorphosis Foundation being one or the founding members.