According to the Eurobarometer, 83 per cent of the Europeans think that fake news threaten democracy; 73 per cent of Internet users are concerned that fake news in the internet have a negative influence on the elections to the European Parliament. However, in the age of digitalisation it is much more relevant that hate speeches and disinformation manifest the stronger in the collective opinion the more often they are published. If the same contents are then even coming from different sources, the risk, that they are considered as true or that a great mass of Internet users accepts them silently, gets higher.
In all partner countries (Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia) the amount of hate speech and disinformation, spread in the Internet, is increasing, with an upward trend. Unfortunately, particularly disadvantaged groups of persons, such as refugees, Roma, members of national minorities, Jews, Muslims or Homosexuals, are in their focus.
Consequences are an increasing social exclusion and discrimination; the self-confidence of the concerned people gets lower, their fear grows; the number of verbal and physical attacks rises; prejudices and stereotypes are sizing. Finally, this leads to the fact that the right of free development is more and more limited for those target groups.
Without a doubt, the initiatives that have been started by the EU and the laws that were enforced by several partner countries are a step in the right direction and have an according impact in practice. But they help the concerned people only in a limited way because they are only applied when the damage is already done.
Therefore, our project „Pro Dialogue” aims at initiating a social dialogue at the local/regional level of the partner countries that combats the reasons for hate speech and fake news. On one hand, it shall be based on verified information and facts, be led rather rationally than emotionally and exclude abuses and insults. On the other hand, it shall bring concerned and involved people together and ensure that they do not speak about each other but with each other. In that, emphasis are subjects that are oriented on the daily life and that have a direct impact on the living together in the local community.