Last Wednesday, the EU DisinfoLab published an Open Letter calling on EU policy-makers to amend the draft EU Digital Services Act (DSA) to tackle disinformation head-on, ensure stronger measures on platform accountability and more democratic oversight over our online environment. More below.

Disinfo News and Updates

  • Media Manipulation. The University of Cardiff Crime and Security Research Institute uncovers a large scale influence operation systematically manipulating Western media to spread disinformation in support of the Kremlin. They find 32 prominent media outlets across 16 countries have been targeted via their reader comments sections.
  • EU Influence. A study by the Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl finds Google, Facebook, and Microsoft to be the three biggest spenders in EU lobbying on digital regulation (primarily on the Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts).
  • UK Online Safety Bill. The UK is drafting carve-outs for journalists in its Online Safety Bill, but what constitutes a journalist and journalism remains unclear.
  • Political Content. Facebook has announced it will extend its pilot policy of making “political content” less prominent in its News Feed to Ireland, Spain and Sweden. According to the Nieman Lab, generally users don’t see much political news in their feeds, but the change could make political discussion less toxic. Also on Facebook, thousands of posts from around the January 6 riots have gone missing from their transparency tool, CrowdTangle.

EU Policy Monitor

In the EU Institutions 

  • Slovenia and the DSA. On Friday the Slovenian Presidency released their first compromise on the Digital Services Act. Among the revisions: they would include search engines in the first two chapters of the text, and introduce a “take down and stay down” obligation for reported content following a national injunction. On Thursday 7/9, the presidency will examine amendments on the DSA draft opinion from Geoffroy Didier (EPP).
  • DSA in the ECON Committee. Last Wednesday the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee held a discussion with shadow rapporteurs on rapporteur Mikulas Peksa (Greens)’s draft opinion on the DSA, which included calls for clarification on definitions and implementation, for example regarding which entities can be designated as auditors of very large platforms. 
  • INGE Committee Update. Last Thursday, MEPs in the Committee on Foreign Interference and Disinformation heard from Avaaz and ACT (Association of Commercial Television in Europe) followed by presentations on sanctions and collective countermeasure. Yesterday (Monday), they held an exchange of views with Commissioners Vestager (Executive Vice -President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age and Competition, European Commission). This Thursday will welcome Commissioner Gabriel, in association with the CULT Committee, and a discussion on foreign interference and spying on European politicians and institutions.

In Member States

  • Malta. Journalists in Malta reporting the murder of journalist and anti-corruption  blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia have been targeted by a disinformation campaign leveraging false news articles hosted on spoofed websites and fake email chains. 

Open Letter to EU Policy-Makers

Last Wednesday, the EU DisinfoLab published an Open Letter calling on EU policy-makers to amend the draft EU Digital Services Act (DSA) to tackle disinformation head-on, ensure stronger measures on platform accountability and more democratic oversight over our online environment. The letter has been co-signed by over 50 organisations and individuals, including, Transparency International EU, Reporters Without Borders, Avaaz, and Institute for Strategic Dialogue, with a cross-section of researchers, educators, journalists, academics, and activists from across the EU and beyond. 

See our Twitter thread here for a summary.

If you want to learn more about this or get involved, reach out to us!

Reports, Studies, Long Reads …

  • Camille Francois and Herb Lin have published a piece in the Journal of Cyber Policy, “The strategic surprise of Russian information operations on social media in 2016 in the United States: mapping a blind spot.”
  • A report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) looks at the industry of disinformation-for-hire in the Asia-Pacific region, in particular in Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Australia. 
  • Ciarán O’Connor at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue released a study on extremism and hate speech on TikTok.

Events and Announcements

  • September 7 (Today): Is the EU About to Ban Targeted Advertising? IAB Europe. More info here.
  • September 16: Join the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) for the online launch of the research report CovidCheck – Assessing the Implementation of the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation in relation to COVID-19. Register here.
  • September 18: Savoir*Devenir is holding an online Conference and workshop series “Games against hate speech”. Register here.
  • September 30: The political groups S&D, Renew Europe, The Greens/EFA and The Left within the European Parliament are co-hosting the Digital Future Summit, supported by Accountable Tech, EDRi and the Sum Of Us. Pre-register here.
  • October 1 – 2: Cumbre Global sobre Desinformación Summit on Disinformation (in Spanish). More info here.
  • October 26 – 27: EU DisinfoLab’s Annual Conference in person. Pre-Registration is open here. (approved participants will hear from us this week)
  • Exposing the Invisible has launched the first module of the Digital Enquirer Kit, a self-study course on collecting and analyzing reliable information online. The first module, Identifying and Responding to Misinformation, is focused on misinformation. You can sign up for a course here.
  • McGill University has launched a Canadian Election Misinformation Project. Check it out and get updates here