Society, in addition, does not aspire to be informed by reliable sources and blindly trusts all kinds of information. Consequently, Bulgaria has become a field for spreading distorted and often fake news on relevant issues. For instance, disinformation campaigns on the Istanbul Convention and the National Child Strategy have caused massive civil disorder and eventually prevented these important documents from being adopted in the country.
The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention) address a very particular problem that requires a specific and careful approach, namely domestic violence. In Bulgaria, where victims are numerous, it was assumed that such a convention would be much desired and accepted, but alas, a campaign of disinformation led by the ruling parties at the time succeeded in turning the population against the convention. As a consequence, citizens consider the convention as a step towards the legalisation of the "third sex" and gay marriage in the country, although these concepts are not even mentioned in the convention (Radio Free Europe, 2020). Subsequently, the Constitutional Court issued a resolution stating that the convention is not in compliance with the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria. The convention was never ratified in the country and for compensation the Bulgarian parliament at the time promised changes in national legislation, which to this date have not been effective enough judging by the increasing number of domestic violence cases (Beer, A., 2021).
In 2018, the National Council for Child Protection approved a draft of a new National Strategy for the Child 2019-2030. It contained important guidelines, advice, and goals for reforming child rights safeguards. The document was opposed by many civil society organisations, along with groups of parents united through social media, where they spread fake news and conclusions about the Strategy to each other. Parents' concerns include the removal of parental rights, a ban on 'healthy spanking' and the separation of children from their parents (National Network for Children, 2020). What the strategy actually aims is to introduce a "complete and explicit ban on physical punishment of children" and "criminalise domestic violence against children" (Waksberg, T., 2019). The massive discontent and distrust have prevented a much-needed document from coming into force, and again the reason for this is rooted in the spread of disinformation.
In conclusion, the two failed documents are proof of how fake news can have a huge impact on the mindset of the citizen and show that it is high time to address the problem.
Beer, A., 2021, Domestic violence in Bulgaria: "And then I decided I would not stand for it anymore", available at: https://www.dw.com/bg/%D0%B4%D0%BE%D0%BC%D0%B0%D188%D0%BD%D0%BE-%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%81%D0%B8%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%B5-%D0%B2-%D0%B1%D1%8A%D0%BB%D0%B3%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%B8%D1%8F-%D0%B8-%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%B0-%D1%80%D0%B5%D1%88%D0%B8%D1%85-%D1%87%D0%B5-%D0%BD%D1%8F%D0%BC%D0%B0-%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B5%D1%87%D0%B5-%D0%B4%D0%B0-%D1%82%D1%8A%D1%80%D0%BF%D1%8F/a-57062767, last accessed on: 20.08.2022
Waksberg, T., 2019, "I'll either beat you or give you to Torbalan". Facts on the Child Strategy, available at: https://www.svobodnaevropa.bg/a/29951193.html, last accessed on: 20.08.2022.
National Network for Children, 2020, EU develops Child Rights Strategy and ours was frozen, available at: https://nmd.bg/es-raboti-po-nova-strategiya-za-pravata-na-deteto-u-nas-lipsva-podoben-strategitcheski-dokument/, last accessed on: 20.08.2022
Radio Free Europe, 2020, The European Parliament and the noise around the Istanbul Convention - the questions and answers, available at: https://www.svobodnaevropa.bg/a/30884308.html, last accessed on: 25.08.2022