Disinfo News and Updates

  • Alternate TikTok universe. This new Tracking Exposed research shows how TikTok’s block from new content being posted in Russia successfully muzzled its users and cut them off from the outside world, while loopholes allowed pro-war propaganda through. 
  • Future of the Internet. On April 28, a global coalition of more than 55 countries including the EU and the US, signed a Declaration for the Future of the Internet. Its signatories commit to an “open, free, global, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet and affirm their commitment to protecting and respecting human rights online”. This non-binding Declaration “sets rules for a growing global digital economy” in a world where internet censorship has worsened in the past few years. 
  • Climate Disinformation (suite). If you’ve read our latest newsletters, you have probably seen that a movement towards the recognition of the climate disinformation threat is en route from several global international organisations and companies. The latest to join in is Twitter, which announced on Earth Day that “misleading advertisements on Twitter that contradict the scientific consensus on climate change are prohibited”. All crucial milestones towards the prevention of climate disinformation. 

EU Policy Monitor 

  • Digital Services Act. After 16 hours of negotiations, the political agreement on the DSA has been reached on Saturday 23 April. However, there is no clarity yet on the details of the agreement. It might take a couple more weeks before we see the first consolidated version. Two technical meetings took place last week to write down what has been agreed upon, and more are expected to happen in the coming days. The European Parliament is pushing to have it formally adopted in July together with the Digital Markets Act. Otherwise the adoption would only happen in September, which would further delay the implementation of the new digital rules. Read our reaction to the political agreement of the DSA here
  • Digital Markets Act. The final compromise text of the DMA should be adopted by COREPER I (deputy heads of mission largely dealing with economic and social issues) on May 4 or 6. The adoption in the Parliament is foreseen for July, potentially together with the DSA (see above). 
  • Artificial Intelligence Act. It is expected that the French EU Presidency will submit a first consolidated version of the overall compromise early May while the Telecoms working party continues working on different articles. The joint Civil Liberties (LIBE)/ Internal Market (IMCO) draft report on the AI Act has been published. The discussion is expected on May 11, with a deadline for amendments on May 18. 
  • SLAPPs. On April 27, the European Commission published its proposal to tackle abusive lawsuits against journalists and human rights defenders, commonly known as Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPS). It is a directive that focuses on the cross-border nature of the problem, which some voices say will fail to address the abuses on a national level. 
  • Copyright. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) dismissed the action brought by Poland against Article 17 of the 2019 Copyright Directive, which Warsaw said would infringe freedoms of expression and information. With this dismissal, the ECJ ruled that content service providers are accountable for content uploaded on their platforms and need to “ensure that this obligation is compatible with freedom of expression and information.” 

Insights & Good Reads

  • From antivax to war propaganda. An analysis of 225 Dutch-speaking far-right and conspiracists Telegram public channels, some of them Belgium-based, shows the porosity between disinformation linked to Covid-19 and pro-Russian war propaganda. Released today, this EDMO BELUX investigation also shows how this phenomena fits into a more global trend of convergence of narratives on these two topics.
  • Meta’s moderation of content. Ukrainian civil society wrote an open letter to Meta expressing concerns about how the company enforced its community standards against social media posts that contained graphic images of alleged war crimes.
  • Rising extremism in gaming. Researchers have found a rising presence of far-right extremism on gaming platforms. The industry’s hidden metrics, a lacklustre content moderation, an ignorance and discomfort about the topic come in the way of facing the threat.

The Latest from EU DisinfoLab

  • EPP Disinformation Summit. The EPP Group Disinformation Summit was hosted by MEP Eva Maydell on April 25, with Alexandre Alaphilippe addressing the issue of accountability and sanctions. Watch the replay here.
  • Disinformation for the sake of activism. Our latest blogpost explores the 2021 German Federal elections when satirical campaigns, set up by activists groups, spread online and offline. It raises the following question: “When does satire become disinformation?” 

Events and Announcements

  • May 3 (2-3pm): Join this webinar which will unveil the results of the first EDMO BELUX investigation: “From antivax to war propaganda: A global disinformation switch visible in Belgium”.
  • May 4: DFRLab is hosting a Report launch: “China’s discourse power operations in the Global South”. 
  • May 10: Register here to this event on government responses to online disinformation across Sub-Saharan Africa and on the launch of LEXOTA, a new tool for human rights defenders. 
  • May 20-22: Join the Wikimedia Marathon, an online event that gathers together technical volunteers from around the world to work together on technical projects, learn new skills, and network. 
  • June 6-10: The RightsCon agenda is live, with more than 560 sessions, including  “Disinformation and dangerous speech: a view from the front lines”, a session hosted by Claire Pershan, Policy Coordinator at EU DisinfoLab.
  • Bellingcat is launching a Tech Fellowship to work close to its team and develop new tools for the open source community. 


Tweet of the week

Tweet by MEP Eva Maydell on April 25 during the EPP Group Disinformation Summit