UNESCO supports new research on journalism, social media and self-regulation in North Macedonia

How do media and journalists use social media in their professional life? How do they address or respond to hate speech and disinformation in comments below their articles posted on social media? How safe is social media for journalists? These are some of the questions driving the research conducted by the Council of Media Ethics in North Macedonia (CMEM), supported by the UNESCO EU-funded project “Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey – Phase 2,” which aims, among others, to ensure the functioning and sustainability of press and media councils in the region.

“Social media have become a prominent avenue for information distribution, so journalists and media have naturally embraced these platforms to promote and share their content,” said Marina Tuneva, Executive Director of the CMEM.

According to the analysis, media have gained experience in understanding how to use social media to increase their readership. Still, sometimes they find certain obstacles, their content or personal accounts wrongfully removed without any possibility of redress or sponsoring of content disapproved without a reasonable basis.

However, the most worrying aspects of social media use for the interviewed journalists is the spread of offensive and disrespectful language, hate speech, and disinformation, with the most triggering topics being crime, corruption, politics and political affairs, LGBTQI population, gender identity and ethnicity. Media have found different ways of dealing with this issue, spanning from blocking comments on certain content to making efforts to remove any harmful content. The media observed that despite their efforts, a substantial amount of harmful content would still stay on social media, notably Facebook.

Concluding the analysis, the CMEM offers several recommendations, notably to social media platforms, to introduce more stringent measures and practices against bots and fake social media accounts and to cooperate with media self-regulatory bodies to prevent harming the visibility of ethical media content.

The research has been shared with the local media community and published on the CMEM’s website. It is available in MacedonianAlbanian, and English languages.

Comments are closed.