Head’s up, due to the summer holiday and the new biweekly format, the next edition of this newsletter will be in your inbox on July 27. See you then 🙂

Disinfo News and Updates

  • Data Voids. In a new notice system for Search, Google has started warning users when they search for a topic that is likely to have rapidly changing results. Meanwhile, over at Twitter, the company is testing warning labels on misleading posts.
  • Online Gender-Based Violence. Facebook, Google, Twitter and TikTok have signed up to a pledge led by the World Wide Web Foundation to address the systemic weaknesses in how they address gender-based abuse on their services. 
  • Climate Disinformation. A leaked draft report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) accuses disinformation and lobbying campaigns, particularly ExxonMobil, of undermining government efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Also, climate change deniers are making a profit on Patreon.

EU Policy Monitor

In the EU Institutions

  • New Council Presidency. Slovenia has assumed the Council Presidency. Cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and the Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts are set as priorities.
  • Digital Services Act (DSA). Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have submitted over 600 amendments to the draft report on the DSA in the lead committee, the Internal Market & Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO). Among the amendments is a proposal by the German Green MEP Alexandra Geese to create a new EU agency called the “European Platform Agency” capable of auditing very large online platforms. To oversee the actions of this powerful new agency, Ms. Geese proposes the European Commission create an “Oversight Board” composed of 15 experts from civil society with expertise in consumer protection, data protection, computer science, human rights, user experience and technology design, economics, sociology and law, and representing the geographic diversity of the EU.
  • Code of Practice. On June 29 the Commission published the reports of the platform signatories covering their actions against Covid-19 misinformation in May. 
  • CJEU YouTube-Cyando Judgement. On June 22, the Court of Justice of the European Union issued its much anticipated judgement on YouTube (C-628/18) and Cyando (C-683/19) and the question of platform operator liability for illegal user content, a core issue for the DSA.

In Member States

  • Denmark. Thirty Danish media have joined together to negotiate with Google in an effort to reach a common agreement on the company’s use of their content. (Financial Times reporting).
  • Croatia. Croatia has become a member of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE), an international organisation open to EU and NATO member states.
  • Germany. Germany’s federal data protection commissioner ordered government ministries and agencies to close their Facebook pages by the end of the year due to the company’s failure to change its privacy practices to comply with EU law. The commissioner cited Clubhouse, TikTok, and Instagram as having similar failures.

European Digital Media Observatory BELUX gets into gear

The EU DisinfoLab is happy to be one of the co-founders of the European Digital Media Observatory for Belgium and Luxembourg (EDMO BELUX), a Belgian and Luxembourgish hub for research on digital media and disinformation. EDMO BELUX will launch in October 2021 and operate in five languages (Dutch, French, English, German, Luxembourgish). This European Commission funded hub, coordinated by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and led by Dr. Trisha Meyer, will gather a network of more than 100 disinformation experts. Read more here.

Research, Policy Papers, Literature Reviews…

  • Laura Courchesne, Jacob N. Shapiro, and Isra M. Thange have undertaken a systematic literature review to assess the impact of influence operations and identify research gaps, sponsored by the Partnership for Countering Influence Operations.
  • The European Parliamentary Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF) has released a study on the far-right political parties, donors (international oligarchs, aristocrats, and religious organisations), and foundations financing extreme anti-gender rights initiatives across Europe. 
  • policy paper by the German Marshall Fund explains how many platforms currently employ “deceptive design” principles to exploit users, and how regulators might instead empower users with more “democratic design”.
  • An article in CNET goes behind the scenes of Wikipedia’s efforts to maintain accurate information on the Coronavirus lab leak theory.
  • GLOBSEC’s Alliance for a Healthy Infosphere has released 10 Transatlantic Principles for a Healthy Online Information Space.

Events and Announcements

  • July 8: Lie Detectors is holding a webinar on media literacy and lessons learned from the pandemic with MEP Sandra Kalniete and Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director of Education and Skills, “Building Resilience: Disinformation and Literacy in an Age of Digital Transformation”. The event will feature a pre-recorded address from EU Commission Vice-President VÄ›ra Jourová.Register here.
  • July 8: In cooperation with the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), the Balkans and Caucasus Transeuropa Observatory (OBCT) is holding an online conference: “Spread of disinformation during the pandemic and its impact on the Western Balkan”. Register here.
  • July 15 – 16: Democracy Reporting International (DRI) is hosting a visual forensic workshop, “Looks Can be Deceiving: Monitoring Visual Content on Social Media”Register here.
  • September 15 – 17: European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) is organising Democracy Week, a series of events on the theme “Stronger Together: Partnerships for supporting democracy”. More info here.
  • September 15 – 17: IPI, the International Press Institute, will co-host the 2021 World Congress in a hybrid format in Vienna and online. More info here.
  • October 26 – 27: EU DisinfoLab’s Annual Conference. Pre-Registration is open here.