Fake news – case of elections in Montenegro 

Author: Emir Pilav

Spreading misinformation, fake news, in many cases causes unimaginable damage to those against whom the same news is directed. However, in addition to harm to individuals or groups, the spread of misinformation and false news can have a major impact on political and democratic processes in many countries.

Serbian media in Montenegro election process

One of these examples is the case of Montenegro. The parliamentary elections, the elections in Nikšić are the most current examples of the influence of fake news on the election process. According to many media, the elections in Nikšić were characterized as the second referendum (after referendum for Montenegro independence) and the most important elections in the history of the city. Although the atmosphere was relatively calm, the real battle took place on social networks, portals, and all available media. Many sensationalist headlines, click bait links, were very wisely used to manipulate a certain number of voters, in order to achieve the best possible election result. 

Fortunately, all the writings, all the forecasts, that there will be mayhem on the streets, that there will be a power  failure during the voting and all the way to the fact that the president will escape from the country, were not true. However, all that left a certain mark.

All citizens, readers, who followed the elections through portals and social networks, had the impression that there was an atmosphere in Nikšić that could result in serious and dangerous conflicts, precisely because of the spread of false news. If we look back a few months, we had a similar situation during the parliamentary elections in 2020. Research by various NGOs in Montenegro has recorded an unprecedented number of media from Serbia that had a huge impact on election day with sensationalist and tendentious headlines.

Fake news and the famous singer 

The connection was the same, that even then conflicts were prepared if one political option loses the elections. In addition to false news about the potential provocation of conflicts and riots, I would like to point out the false news that appeared on social networks, and that is that the singer and songwriter Miladin Šobić called on citizens to vote against the Democratic Party of Socialists. Considering that the mentioned singer and songwriter is from Nikšić, this news resonated quickly, but fortunately it was quickly denied on the official profile of the singer.

As much as the election results are suitable for either side, precisely because of the spread of false propaganda and false news, a great shadow is cast on the overall results, which greatly disrupts the process of democracy in society.

Fake news spreads faster than true news, which further shows the seriousness and severity of the phenomenon. As such, we must accept it with great care and we must fight against it. Through education, joint struggle of the media, competent institutions and organizations that are dealing with this phenomenon, we can jointly eradicate the increasingly present propaganda of false news as relevant and true.