Disinfo News and Updates

  • OSINT operation. Thanks to this informal consortium of OSINT professionals, using everything from open flight data to Google Maps, hundreds of foreign students were evacuated from Ukraine.
  • Red Cross in Ukraine. The International Committee of the Red Cross was impacted by a massive disinformation campaign threatening its staff and the population they are serving on the ground.
  • Fake LinkedIn accounts. This NPR and Stanford University investigation reveals that thousands of fake LinkedIn profiles are using AI-generated faces to increase the sale of products to unsuspecting users. While this is  not a new marketing tool, the challenge is about technology advances which might make it increasingly difficult to “detect computer-created images with the naked eye — not to mention fake audio and video.”

EU Policy Monitor 

  • Digital Services Act. According to the latest document seen by EU DisinfoLab, the compromise on article 17, specifically regarding the internal complaint handling mechanism, would allow users to complain when platforms decide not to act on breaches of their terms and conditions, including disinformation. But “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” and we need to continue pushing to ensure that it is in the final text. DSA is likely to have a new ‘crisis response mechanism’ for very large platforms in a new article proposed by the Commission (already discussed at the fourth political Trilogue last week and expected to be further discussed at the technical level before being returned to the political one). The next political Trilogue is expected to take place either on April 22 or 27/28. Several sources expect that it will not be the last one but are confident that the negotiations will be closed by the end of the French Presidency. While negotiations accelerate to meet the ambitious deadline, civil society continues to push on other key issues, such as additional obligations that could prevent NGOs from becoming Trusted Flaggers and targeted advertising to minors and the use of sensitive data for ad targeting in the DSA.
  • Digital Markets Act. The final agreement on the DMA was reached on March 24 at the last political Trilogue. The final text has to be approved by the Parliament and the Council and the first consolidated version is expected by April 19. It could enter into force as early as October 2022 with the first compliance by the beginning of 2024. There was an eleventh hour attempt from the publishers to include remuneration conditions for publishers that was rejected during the last Trilogue, however the decision makers are now split on what the agreed text actually means. The counter-disinformation community should stay vigilant for any similar last minute pushes in the Digital Services Act before the negotiations are closed that could have a negative impact on the fight against disinformation. 
  • Code of Practice on Disinformation. Signatories continue the Code of Practice revision in light of the war in Ukraine and report on first 2022 actions to fight COVID-19 disinformation. The publication of the Code is delayed until the end of May as many Signatories are dedicating efforts to respond to the situation in Ukraine. 

Insights & Good Reads

  • This piece by Prof. Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, based on evidence from Brazil, India and the UK, shows that “news helps people become more informed and thus potentially more resilient to misinformation, propaganda, and other attempts to lead them astray.” Read the full working paper here.
  • Mathew Ingram, in Columbia Journalism Review, shares how the war in Ukraine is the latest moderation challenge for social media platforms.
  • The first CrossOver investigation on the Belgian Freedom Convoy, conducted by Apache and based on CrossOver’s dashboard data, led to the conclusion that the Belgian iteration is an “imported product.” 

The Latest from EU DisinfoLab

  • We’re pleased to welcome Oleh Shchuryk to the EU DisinfoLab team. Oleh is reinforcing our team as Project Manager. He will be in charge of supervising and coordinating all the European projects we are involved in.    
  • ICYMI. The replay of our webinar on user redress mechanisms in the Digital Services Act with Frances Haugen, advocate, former product manager at Facebook and Whistleblower, Emma Winberg, the widow of James Le Mesurier, who was a co-founder of the Syrian rescue group the While Helmets and director of the non-profit MaydayRecue Foundation, Josephine Ballon, Head of Legal at HateAid, and Mathias Vermeulen, AWO Director, is available here.

Events and Announcements

  • April 20: Deadline to apply and become the next CYBERSEC Young Leaders.
  • June 6-7: The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) hosts its 360/Open Summit: Contested Realities, Connected Futures. 
  • June 13-14: Save the Date for the EDMO 2022 Annual Conference to take place in Brussels.
  • Take part in collective intelligence action against disinformation by registering here to this training invitation by Public Editor, a collective intelligence tool and training course by Alliance4Europe designed to combat disinformation.
  • The European Research Executive Agency (REA) invites experts, including those fighting against disinformation, to register in the European Commission’s experts database to evaluate European research projects.
  • This book (link in French), “The Chinese political story: Soft power, communications and influence,” written by Pr. Olivier Arifon, Communications Consultant, Professor and Researcher, will drive you through all the challenges that China currently poses to Europe.