2021 proved another pivotal year in Europe for our information ecosystems and our response to these challenges. In 2020, the European Union released their roadmap strategies on democratic infrastructure and media sustainability, the European Democracy Action Plan and the European Media and Audiovisual Action Plan, and launched the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO) for fact-checkers, academics, and disinformation experts. In 2021, the European institutions pushed forward on the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, regulatory packages to clarify the role and responsibilities of online platforms and increase accountability for online disinformation, alongside a much-needed update to the Code of Practice on Disinformation. During these efforts, the Facebook Papers sent waves across the counter-disinformation space, affirming the concerns of civil society, and motivating lawmakers to double down on their proposals.
These are micro-entities. 43% of the initiatives surveyed count between 0 and 2 employees
They are community-reliant. 57% work with volunteers and 64% rely on crowdsourcing to some extent.
Strained relationship with the private sector. Almost a third of the participants feel they are in opposition to the major platforms, and two thirds have a weak relationship with telecommunications actors
Sustainability. Only one of the initiatives surveyed said that their operation is fully sustainable.
Security. Cybersecurity is a concern for all actors interviewed. None feels that their operation is entirely secure.
Machine learning often gets it wrong. I wanted to go a step backwards.
Addressing the information ecosystem disorder
“Algorithms not designed to have quality information in their objective functions will naturally favour disinformation”
News literacy for all
Know your algorithm
“Our goal is to defund disinformation”
A central node in a growing network
The first citizens’ anti-fake news brigade
Countering disinformation from A to Z
A turning point in our response to disinformation?
This research was conducted at a moment when the disinformation challenge has never seemed higher. From the Covid-19 health crisis and parallel ‘infodemic’ to elections in the US and Belarus, 2020 has been a tumultuous year for our information ecosystems.
Towards a Resilient, Decentralized Civil Society Ecosystem
Disinformation represents a diffuse and rapidly evolving set of challenges. It requires a broad response and the harmonised efforts of diverse actors. Disinformation is also a transversal threat by which more and more actors find themselves confronted. EU DisinfoLab believes that a thriving, decentralized civil society ecosystem is key to an effective response.
Community Support Hub
The EU DisinfoLab has conducted a comprehensive mapping of support available for European and international counter-disinformation actors, including both public and private funding opportunities. We also have some tips for those applying to funding for the first time. Visit our Community Support Hub.
This project is made possible by the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. Thanks are also due of course to the actors interviewed and featured here. They were generous in taking the time to participate in this project, and earnest in their contributions.