Disinformation Nation: The Slovaks Fighting in Defence of Facts

But while Slovak police have set up a Facebook page to debunk hoaxes and civil society organisations try to explain the dangers of information wars and widespread media illiteracy, some social media users are taking matters into their own hands.

One, spurred into action by the entry into parliament in 2016 of the far-right People's Party Our Slovakia, led by one-time neo-Nazi leader Marian Kotleba, created an online tool, Blbec.online, to help individuals, institutions and companies fight disinformation.

"For me, as for most of Slovakia, it was a shock. That's when I said that I have to do something. Anything I can," said the man, who asked not to be named.

"The defensive mechanisms of our democracy are failing - we have communists and conspirators in the government and Nazis are waiting impatiently on the doorstep," he told BIRN.

"I believe that if we want to defeat the evil, we need to be active."

Slovaks love a good conspiracy

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico in Bratislava, Slovakia, 2018. Photo: EPA-EFE/JAKUB GAVLAK

Conspiracy theories took root in Slovakia in the 1990s, after the collapse of communism, when trust in the mainstream media and politicians was running thin.

With the rise of the Internet and social networks, however, conspiracies, hoaxes and disinformation in general have reached new heights.

"Slovakia significantly exceeds other countries in the region when it comes to trust in conspiracy theories," said Daniel Milo, a senior research fellow at Globsec, a Bratislava-based think tank.

Citing a recent Globsec survey of people in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, Milo said 52 per cent of Slovaks "agree with the belief that the world is controlled by...

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