On May 28-29 in Brussels, join the community working against disinformation: case studies, civil society initiatives and tools will be presented. Pre-registrations for EU Disinfolab conference are open. Take a look at the agenda.
En Marche Disinformation: when karma fights back
Last week, French newspaper Le Monde revealed that the communications team of “En Marche”,in close coordination with former Emmanuel Macron advisor Ismaël Emelien,used anonymous accounts to share false claims and manipulated videos to protect French President’s security officer Alexandre Benalla. The latter has been accused (among other things) to beat up demonstrators in Paris in May 2018. Ismaël Emelien justified these actions on TV by saying “you know, on Twitter, it’s the rule”. Eventually, En Marche and the President’s team used similar disinformation techniques to the ones they usually criticise. This story is inconsistent with the strategy of the French government, which pushed for the implementation of the new law against manipulated information during elections period.
French Government vs. Twitter
Last week, Twitter blocked the online campaign (#Ouijevote) of French government inciting people to vote in the upcoming European elections. According to the platform, this was not in compliance with both French law on disinformation adopted in December 2018 (which requires online political campaigns to disclose who paid for them and the amount spent), and Twitter’s own terms and conditions. Few days later, after meeting with government representatives, the social media platform announced being ready to authorise online campaigns encouraging participation in elections in France. It is also important to note that the targeting criteria for this campaign have not been disclosed.
The UK regulating social media platforms
The long awaited “Online Harms White Paper” released today by the British government wants the UK to be the safest place to go online. In the framework of the new legislative proposal, a consultation has been launched to gather views on various aspects of the government’s plans for tackling online harms. The new regulation describes a set of online harms and defines a duty of care that internet companies must provide, together with a code of best practices. Moreover, the plan argues that the regulator should have the power to demand information about the impact of algorithms in selecting content for users. The Webinar of EU DisinfoLab with Facebook Tracking Exposed initiative has well developed the logic behind the personalisation of Facebook algorithms.
EU elections news and fact checks of the week
- Representation of the European Commission in France has started its new initiative ‘Les Décodeurs de l’Europe’, aiming to answer false claims made against the European institutions and regulations. On his Twitter account, journalist Samuel Laurent from Le Monde argues thatcommunications departments shouldn’t try to replicate journalism.
- In his interview with the French newspaper, Le Monde, the head of cybersecurity at Facebook said he has detected no suspicious activity related to the European elections in May.
- FactCheck EU has proven wrong the recent statement of Georgios Tsaousis to Sputnik that Berlin will send at least 50,000 foreigners back to Greece in 2020.
- EU FactCheck has proven wrong the assumption that the Dutch have become considerably richer since the euro entered into circulation while Belgians have become poorer.
- In the footsteps of Facebook personalisation algorithms: Summary article of the Webinar with Facebook Tracking Exposed is now available.
- Facebook will soon introduce a new feature enabling its users to understand the reason behind the promoted posts and advertising campaigns.
- A report prepared for the European Commission by three Special Advisers on the future challenges of digitisation for competition policy, suggests how future tech deals might face greater scrutiny, for example by requiring dominant players to ensure data interoperability.
- According to a fact-checking website Poynter, misinformation is making people more violent, nevertheless, tech platforms don’t plan to prevent the worst.
- Research experts from the University of Southern California and the public-interest advocacy group Upturn have shown how Facebook delivers certain ads in a way that aligns with race and gender stereotypes.
- According to a recent analysis of The Guardian, pro-Brexit advertising posts on Facebook were overseen by Sir Lynton Crosby’s lobbying company. It is to note that Sir Crosby is an Australian political strategist who helped to run the last four Conservative general election campaigns.
Calendar and announcements
- 17 April – EU DisinfoLab Webinar: Rating Sources to Understand Disinformation with Global Disinformation Index. The link to join the video conference can be found here.
- 2-6 September @ Paphos, Cyprus: International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. Please find the Call for Papers and Participation for the “Workshop on Challenging Misinformation: Exploring the Limits and Approaches”.
- 6-7 June @ Brussels: Annual Conference on European Media Law 2019.
- 19-20 June @ UNESCO Headquarters in Paris: 63rd meeting of the International Program for the Development of communication.