The international Erasmus+ project SAFE will try to answer this question. SAFE (Seniors’ Anti-Fake Education) project is a twenty-four-month project that aims to improve the skills of seniors (65+) to identify fake news more easily.

Project partners from Greece (KMOP), Cyprus (CARDET), Italy (CESIE), Germany (BUPNET), Austria (die BERATER) and Slovenia (LUP) conducted state-of-the-art analysis, which included a review of existing resources and literature and conducted focus groups with seniors and mentors separately. Analysis revealed that the target group is not fully capable of distinguishing true from false information in online world. Problems most often arise in the critical assessment of the obtained information and ensuring the credibility of the online source from which the information and news are obtained.

The findings are also confirmed by Loos, E., & Nijenhuis, J. (2020) which proved statistically significant generational differences in the recognition of fake news. The research also showed and confirmed that the older population (65+) is generally more vulnerable when it comes to identifying fake news, and that they are more often victims of online scams. The rapid changes of today’s digital society therefore require an ever-increasing set of skills and the strengthening of capacities for managing smart devices and, in a general sense, the development of media literacy.

The SAFE project therefore systematically addresses the elderly population, as the target population has demonstrated a lack of skills for safe use of the Internet, which includes reading news, presence on social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Viber, WhatsApp, etc.), which also includes sharing and transmitting certain information and assessing its authenticity. As part of the project activities, the consortium of partners will address the challenge of improving critical thinking skills for easier and safer navigation among potential pitfalls that appear in various online resources, including social networks

After the (1) state-of-the analysis and focus groups, the project activities are translated into the development of (2) a training program for mentors and (3) workshops to empower the target group in identifying fake news, which will be implemented as a pilot phase in all partner countries. Furthermore, in the project, we will develop (4) SAFE Hub, which will enable self-education on an online platform for the purposes and needs of the project.

For more information about the SAFE project, visit the project website and follow us on social networks:

The present article was prepared by David Rihtarič, employed at the People’s University of Ptuj as coordinator and manager of international projects.