Disinfo Update 08/04/2019

Our weekly newsletter on disinformation issues.

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On May 28-29 in Brussels, join the community working against disinformation: case studies, civil society initiatives and tools will be presented. Pre-registrations for EU Disinfolab conference are open. Take a look at the agenda.

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En Marche Disinformation: when karma fights back

Last week, French newspaper Le Monde revealed that the communications team of “En Marche”,in close coordination with former Emmanuel Macron advisor Ismaël Emelien,used anonymous accounts to share false claims and manipulated videos to protect French President’s security officer Alexandre Benalla. The latter has been accused (among other things) to beat up demonstrators in Paris in May 2018. Ismaël Emelien justified these actions on TV by saying “you know, on Twitter, it’s the rule”. Eventually, En Marche and the President’s team used similar disinformation techniques to the ones they usually criticise. This story is inconsistent with the strategy of the French government, which pushed for the implementation of the new law against manipulated information during elections period.

French Government vs. Twitter

Last week, Twitter blocked the online campaign (#Ouijevote) of French government inciting people to vote in the upcoming European elections. According to the platform, this was not in compliance with both French law on disinformation adopted in December 2018 (which requires online political campaigns to disclose who paid for them and the amount spent), and Twitter’s own terms and conditions. Few days later, after meeting with government representatives, the social media platform announced being ready to authorise online campaigns encouraging participation in elections in France. It is also important to note that the targeting criteria for this campaign have not been disclosed.

The UK regulating social media platforms

The long awaited Online Harms White Paper” released today by the British government wants the UK to be the safest place to go online. In the framework of the new legislative proposal, a consultation has been launched to gather views on various aspects of the government’s plans for tackling online harms. The new regulation describes a set of online harms and defines a duty of care that internet companies must provide, together with a code of best practices. Moreover, the plan argues that the regulator should have the power to demand information about the impact of algorithms in selecting content for users. The Webinar of EU DisinfoLab with Facebook Tracking Exposed initiative has well developed the logic behind the personalisation of Facebook algorithms

EU elections news and fact checks of the week

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