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 updated agenda.
|Pre-register to EU DisinfoLab conference|
They don’t stop to intervene
Recently, media channels have reported numerous cases when foreign entities have tried to influence internal policies in the context of elections. For instance, Alyza Sebenius has revealed how Russian internet trolls appear to be shifting strategy in their efforts to disrupt the 2020 U.S. elections or influence the upcoming elections in Finland. In the context of the presidential elections in Israel, Twitter has also suspended dozens of Hebrew-language accounts run by a strange Chinese religious sect. Even though the Communications Security Establishment’s Report did not refer to any specific threat from Russia, Foreign Minister of Canada has recently expressed her concerns about possible Russian meddling in this October’s elections. Lastly, a BBC investigation has revealed that at least six candidates were offered money by Russians in the lead up to last year’s presidential elections in Madagascar.
While negotiating the new Brexit deadline which is now set for Halloween 2019, the UK Government Communication Service has published guidance for government departments to tackle disinformation. Nowadays, governments communications troops need to be well equipped for battle in the escalating disinformation war. After the UK government has released the Online Harms White Paper last week, The Guardian has published a critical opinion of six civil liberties organisations’ representatives explaining how the UK White paper would make China’s state censors proud and would give the UK the widest and most prolific internet censorship in an apparently functional democracy.
You can be better, better
Facebook is taking actions to manage problematic content across the Facebook family of apps. The platform has also announced sweeping changes to its anti-misinformation policies. This includes reducing the reach of groups that repeatedly spread misinformation, exploring the use of crowdsourcing to determine which news outlets users trust most and adding new indicators to Messenger, groups and News Feed to inform users about the content they’re seeing. Meanwhile, in his recent article, Henk van Ess from Bellingcat explains how you can verify content on Instagram using 10 specific tools.
EU elections news and fact checks of the week
- Data Analyst Luca Hammer has started a continuous Twitter thread about the upcoming EUelections.
- The news site called V4NA was registered in London in December 2018, by the director of Duna TV, which is a Hungarian media channel close to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
- With the EU elections approaching, right-wing populists are being offered help from Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. In filmmaker Alison Klayman’s ‘The Brink’, viewers will follow Bannon through the 2018 midterm elections in the US, and how he mobilizes far-right parties in order to win seats in the May 2019 European Parliamentary elections.
- FactCheckEU has explained false claims about the deployment of soldiers during French Yellow Vests protests.
- EUFactCheck has proven right the news that Britain began issuing passports without the words “European Union” on the cover.
- Blogger Wishcrys has traced the forms and mechanics of K-pop fan labour involved in generating or refuting misinforming content online.
- WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange was arrested last Thursday, almost seven years after he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
- For the first time since 1848, Switzerland’s Supreme Court has ordered a revote in a referendum. Country’s highest court has explained that voters were informed erroneously by the Federal Council before voting on different points and that the revote was a necessity.
- To reduce the number of its old stories that get recirculated as new, The Guardian is making a story’s age more prominent, both to readers and to those who might only see a link on social media without clicking through.
Calendar and announcements
- The Bad News Game is now live in 13 different languages, and most of them have junior versions.
- 17 April – EU DisinfoLab Webinar on Rating Sources to Understand Disinformation with Global Disinformation Index. The link to the video conference can be found here.
- 28-29 May @ Brussels: The program of the Annual EU DisinfoLab Conference has been updated. Check it out here and don’t forget to pre-register.
- 6-7 June @ Brussels: Annual Conference on European Media Law 2019.
- 19-20 June @ UNESCO Headquarters in Paris: 63rd meeting of the International Programme for the Development of Communication.
- 2-6 September @ Paphos, Cyprus: International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. Please find the Call for Papers and Participation for the “Workshop on Challenging Misinformation: Exploring the Limits and Approaches”.