Disinfo Update 14/10/2019

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Disinformation in the EU Bubble

Last Wednesday, EUvsDisinfo uncovered that EP Today – the self-proclaimed “monthly news magazine for the European Parliament” – has in fact been syndicating content from Voice of America and Russia Today. Topping 145K likes on Facebook, EP Today misled readers into thinking that the website is affiliated with the European Parliament.

After reading EUvsDisinfo’s investigation, we decided to dig deeper into the source of this website. As EUvsDisinfo highlighted, EP Today’s Facebook page is managed from India, and upon closer inspection, it seemed as though the website’s original content had been pushing Indian interests. We eventually found that a Brussels-based Indian consultancy firm is behind the website. For further details on how we discovered this, you can read our mini OSINT investigation here.

The next day the European Parliament passed a resolution on disinformation and foreign interference, and ironically, EP Today later took to social media to announce the news. We’ll leave this here…

EP Today’s Twitter account has since been suspended, but its Facebook account still remains active.

Gearing up for 2020

Last week, The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the second installment of their investigation on Russian social media interference in the 2016 U.S. Election. Wired broke this down for us, but it should be underscored that the “Committee chastises social media companies for being stingy with information on how foreign actors manipulated their platforms”. In related news, on Friday, U.S. Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren revealed that she’d paid for a Facebook advertisement filled with false claims about Trump and Zuckerberg, highlighting how Facebook is complicit in the dissemination of disinformation. Warren took this opportunity to emphasise how Facebook’s changes to its advertising policy jeopardise the integrity and fairness of democratic deliberation, especially in light of the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election.

The Brussels’ Corner

Good reads

Studies

  • Responsible Reporting in an Age of Information Disorder: First Draft has released an essential guide that provides a blueprint of editorial guidelines and ethics for media and journalists to follow. 
  • According to a new report by Oxford Information Labs, the self-regulation of social media platforms is failing to curb disinformation. More specifically, the report looks at the impact of algorithmic changes made by social media platforms through a digital marketing lens.

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