Good day, Disinfo Update readers!
Welcome to this new edition of your EU DisinfoLab bi-weekly newsletter, providing you with a selection of recent disinformation updates and events from around the world.
Amongst the featured headlines:
- Latest updates on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), with media exemption amendments in the CULT Committee draft report,
- A lot about AI, including the latest Center for Countering Digital Hate study about misinformation circulating on Bard.
Couple of final highlights. Interested in the latest OSINT developments and/or in the OSINT research field? This Thursday, 20 April, we’re hosting a webinar to present the OSINT Guidelines. Our experts, Alexandre Alaphilippe & Amaury Lesplingart, will share practical and concrete tips on how to apply those in your OSINT research. More information and registration link below.
The EU DisinfoLab 2023 Conference will take place on 11 – 12 October 2023 in Krakow, Poland. If not done yet, make sure to book those dates to not miss it! And stay tuned for more updates, soon!
Enjoy the read!
Disinfo news & updates
- Way too easy. As AI-generated content raises a lot of questions, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) reveals in its latest study that Bard, Google’s new AI chatbot, “generates misinformation on 78 out of 100 false and harmful narratives” on a variety of topics such as COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, climate change, and other hot issues, without providing any disclaimers.
- More AI. OpenAI, maker of ChatGPT, has until 30 April to comply with a list of measures to satisfy Italian privacy regulators, who imposed on 31 March the first worldwide temporary ban in the country on the AI software over privacy concerns. In the meantime, on 13 April, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), a body that gathers all European data protection authorities to coordinate the enforcement of European data protection rules, announced the launch of a ChatGPT dedicated task force. The EDPB “made the announcement after several European regulators asked for more coordination on the AI chatbot, which is facing growing scrutiny.” Buckle up. On 14 April, in the Financial Times, Elon Musk announced that he was assembling a team to launch an AI start-up in order to compete with OpenAI.
- No surprise there. The Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) draft report on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) is out. As we unfortunately expected, it has media exemption amendments all over it, asking no content moderation by Very Large Online Platforms on content that is considered legal but that can be harmful. In terms of next key steps and dates: the CULT Committee rapporteur, lead Committee, and the author of the report, Sabine Verheyen, might submit further suggestions by the amendment deadline on 5 May. The deadline for amendments in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) on its draft opinion was last week. Votes in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and in the IMCO Committee are expected by the end of June.
- Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) and Search Engines (VLOSEs) designation under the Digital Services Act (DSA) is expected soon. Some services are already preparing to contest the designation. What does it mean for the counter-disinformation community? Get further clarity in the replay of our 2022 annual conference presentation on the DSA here.
What we’re reading or listening to
- Image/truth relationship. With several experts’ contributions, this Reuters piece addresses the possible impact and challenges AI-generated images might have on the work of fact-checkers and journalists.
- Collective efforts vs tyranny’s propagandists. This powerful op–ed by Maria Ressa, 2021 Nobel Prize winner, and Nishant Lalwani, CEO of the International Fund for Public Interest Media, provides a realistic view on how “tyranny’s propagandists are winning” and urges democracies, policymakers and funders to commit to significant funds to counter them.
- Digital threats. The Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) has been developing a handbook for investigating digital threats. Jane Lytvynenko, Freelance Reporter, contributes with an insightful guide on the basics of reporting about disinformation.
- On the hunt. In this podcast, Aric Toler, Director of Research and Training at Bellingcat, concretely explains how he and a team of New York Times journalists tracked down the man who allegedly leaked classified US documents on a Discord group.
This week’s recommended read
Rita Jonušaitė, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at EU DisinfoLab, recommends diving into upcoming audits for Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines (VLOPs & VLOSEs) under the DSA, with a specific focus on auditing recommender systems. The Stiftung Neue Verantwortung Foundation published this insightful piece. It aims to clarify how these audits could look like to avoid that platforms exploit them to legitimise their practices and neglect responsibility. It also proposes a risk-scenario-based audit process. It thoroughly explains what audits and assessments of recommender systems according to the DSA should look like. Why should it be interesting for the counter-disinformation community? Proper auditing will be important to ensure that platforms are complying with their obligations to tackle systemic risks such as disinformation. A fascinating read, also very accessible for non-DSA wonks!
The latest from EU DisinfoLab
- Foreign interference. This technical document written by Nicolas Hénin, Researcher at EU DisinfoLab, “FIMI: towards a European redefinition of foreign interference” looks into what’s at stake when using the FIMI acronym (Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference). Last week, we hosted a webinar on this topic with Nicolas. Should you want to dig further, the replay is available here.
- Blackout. The risk of a blackout is instrumentalised to hinder the energy transition and to favour pro-Russian positions. This “Blackout disinformation: an attempt to leave the energy transition in the dark” blogpost by Raquel Miguel Serrano, Researcher at EU DisinfoLab, explores the disinformation spreading in Germany on a topic at the intersection of the energy crisis, climate change and political polarisation.
- OSINT Guidelines webinar. New Guidelines for public interest OSINT investigations have been published on the ObSINT platform, developed by a collective of organisations dedicated to conducting open-source investigations for the public interest. They provide OSINT organisations with a framework of good practices and an opportunity to reflect on and potentially refine their methodology, tools, skills, documentation and working environments. Are you curious to find out how to apply OSINT Guidelines to your research? Join Alexandre Alaphilippe, EU DisinfoLab’s Executive Director, and Amaury Lesplingart, CheckFirst’s CTO, for an online event presenting those Guidelines, and equipping you with practical insights! Sign up here.
- 18 April. Join this workshop, “Mastering the Art of Critical Thinking and Identifying Fallacies”, and improve your critical thinking skills on FLICC – the methods of disinformation (17:00 to 18:30 CEST).
- 19 – 23 April. 17th edition of the International Journalism Festival in Perugia. With some sessions tackling AI, gender-based disinformation, censorship, and more, it might be worth checking this year’s programme!
- 20 April. Register here for the “Discover the OSINT Guidelines for public interest investigation” webinar (14:30 – 15:30 CEST). Alexandre Alaphilippe, Executive Director, EU DisinfoLab, and Amaury Lesplingart, Chief Technology Officer, CheckFirst, will share their experience and practical tips so that you know how to efficiently apply those OSINT Guidelines in your research.
- 26 April. Alexandre Alaphilippe, EU DisinfoLab’s Executive Director, will participate in the ING2 Committee, sharing information about our Doppelganger investigation. The event will be live-streamed via this website. More information will be provided on our social media accounts shortly.
- 26 April. Register to EDMO’s online event, “Information Governance and Institutional Trust in Digital Societies: Lessons Learned, Unlearned, and Emerging Best Practice” (15:00 to 17:00 CEST).
- 29 – 31 May. 18th edition of Globsec 2023 Bratislava Forum, “Global fragility: an uncertain future”. Register here.
- ICYMI. The replay from the second EDMO BELUX Lunch Lecture, “To the front line with OSINT” with Brecht Castel, from Knack, is available here.
- The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) in partnership with Google and YouTube opened applications for funding to support fact-checking initiatives worldwide and reduce the harm of misinformation. Deadline for applications: 14 April, 2023.
- Bellingcat is recruiting an Editor and a US Business Development Manager.
- Citizen Lab is hiring a Finance and Administration Executive.
- Democracy Reporting International is looking for a Digital Democracy Programme Associate.
- ISD currently has six open vacancies in their UK, US and German offices. More here.
- Mozilla is hiring a Trust & Safety Operations Lead.
- The Open Society Foundations has several global openings. Check them out here.