Disinfo Update 08/07/2019

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Full throttle

The nomination of Ursula von der Leyen as the Commission President has raised eyebrows among those familiar with the ‘Zensursula’ scandal of 2009, which saw von der Leyen subjected to backlash over her efforts to ‘censor’ parts of the internet. Her appointment is now awaiting approval from the European Parliament through a ballot that is expected to occur the week of 15th July. Last week, newly elected MEPs decided on the vice-presidency roles of the European Parliament. Notably, this includes Katarina Barley who recently advocated for the ‘breaking up of digital monopolies through interoperability’.

Doctor’s orders

Given the scepticism surrounding health-related information, Facebook published a post on how it has taken action to minimise misinformation on sensationalised health claims. This comes after Facebook announced measures to combat misinformation on vaccinations in March. Interestingly, a leading epidemiologist suggested that such actions are not substantial enough, and need to be married with a grassroots movement for rejuvenating society’s trust in vaccines, but also science in general.

Warning: artificially created!

GPT-2 – an AI fake text generator that can write paragraphs in a style based on just a sentence – has raised concerns about its potential to spread false information. In relation to this, our very own Alexandre Alaphilippe gave an interview over the weekend, suggesting that a solution would be to explicitly label the content as artificially created (interview in French). Strikingly, the US state of California has passed a law requiring bots to reveal their ‘artificial identity’ when they are used to sell a product or influence a voter.

Library

Events and Announcements

  • Democracy Reporting International has announced a call for submissions covering social media and elections in Ukraine – deadline is the 10th July.
  • 11 July @ Brussels, The Office: Open Society Foundations Event – The European Way of Digital: The Role of the State in Protecting Open Societies Online. Register here.
  • 10 September @ Brussels, Euractiv’s Network Office: #EUINFLUENCER 2019: How has social media reshaped political communication? Register here.

HR

Picture © European Union 2013 – European Parliament