Mădălina Boțan on information and disinformation during electoral campaigns at the CIJ’s podcast


Mădălina Boțan is a researcher within the BROD project (Bulgarian-Romanian Observatory of Digital Media) and a PhD lecturer at the National School of Political and Administrative Studies, Faculty of Communication. On the eve of the elections, she was invited to the Media Literacy Lab, the podcast of the Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ), to share her insights on information and disinformation during election campaigns.

“Disinformation takes many forms and passes off as relevant information on which one could base his or her decisions. And when disinformation decides the course of things, then it's really serious, so I think the biggest danger is disinformation", Mădălina Boțan explains.

How does our digital footprint influence the electoral decisions we take? "Right now, the technology platforms, the big platforms, have the ability to store, and do store, data about us that is extremely detailed, meaning they have so much information about us, they already know very clearly pretty much what we're likely to react to, just based on our digital footprint, on the topics that we care about. Think about it, they have so many information points about us through the likes we give, through what we post, through what we comment on, through the places we visit, through geolocation. I mean they already know very clearly the profile of each user, and then that data is very valuable, because it is used to sell us something, including a candidate, a party."

How we are targeted during election periods and what are the ways to avoid disinformation in order to cast an informed vote, but also why going to the polls is important are some of the issues discussed by the host of the podcast, journalist Julia Nagy, with the researcher. What role do emotions play when it comes to choosing who represents you in a democratic society? "All studies show that we vote emotionally, not rationally. And we're not willing to go through a lot of information when it comes to voting for someone either. In the end, it's all emotions, it's all gut feeling, whether or not we resonate with the person, whether or not we like them, physical appearance matters, all the studies show that, so our choices are very, very subjective," explains Mădălina Boțan. Read more about polarisation and information in episode 13 of the CIJ podcast.

The podcast is part of the Media Literacy Programme initiated by the CIJ in partnership with the Romanian-American Foundation and supported by the BROD project - Bulgarian-Romanian Observatory of Digital Media.  

This material reflects only the views of those participating in the dialogue, and the partners mentioned cannot be held responsible for any use made of the information contained herein.