Disinfo News and Updates

  • NYU Ad Observatory. Last week Facebook fully disabled the accounts of New York University researchers studying political ads, along with the apps, pages and platform access associated with the research observatory, which seeks to oversee and supplement Facebook’s ad library. Facebook alleges that the research project compromises privacy through its use of advertiser data. Facebook previously tried to shut down the observatory in the lead-up to the 2020 US elections.
  • Twitter Media Collaboration. Twitter will collaborate with two major news agencies, Reuters and the Associated Press, who will help Twitter add context and background information to events generating a high volume of tweets.
  • Belarus-Lithuanian Border.  Last week Lithuania’s Interior Ministry published a video which seems to show Belarusian border guards directing migrants to the Lithuanian border. Following Alexander Lukashenko’s threat to send “migrants and drugs” into Europe, hundreds of migrants have been arriving, many from Iraq, some lured by information shared in Telegram channels and private Facebook groups.

EU Policy Monitor

In the EU Institutions 

  • Anti-Money Laundering. On July 20, the European Commission presented its package of legislative proposals aimed at reinforcing the EU’s anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing (AML/CFT) rules. The proposed reform will extend the rules to the entire crypto-assets sector.
  • GDPR. Last month, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) adopted an urgent binding decision under the General Data Protection Regulation regarding WhatsApp’s data sharing with Facebook. As part of their decision, the EDPB requested the Irish DPA to further investigate WhatsApp’s data processing.

In Member States

  • Germany. Last month Google announced its decision to take legal action over an expanded version of Germany’s content moderation law, the NetzDG, on the grounds that its provisions violate user privacy.
  • Hungary. American far-right Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson met with Viktor Orbán during a trip to Hungary, during which he spoke at the Hungarian festival MCC Feszt

Reports, Articles, Journals …

  • A report by the Brennan Center finds that major social media companies often apply content moderation policies in a way that disadvantages marginalised groups. In their recommendations, the authors call on the US government to “establish whistleblower protection for company employees and contractors who expose unlawful practices”. (The EU DisinfoLab has advocated for Whistleblower provisions in the EU Digital Services Act. If this is something you care about, reach out to us!)
  • In the Internet Policy Review, Giovanni De Gregorio and Nicole Stremlau consider the doctrine of Information Intervention – “strategic efforts to interfere in (whether disrupting, manipulating or altering) a communications environment within a community, region or state afflicted by mass atrocities, in order to prevent the dissemination of violence-inciting speech” – and offer a new framework in the context of online media.
  • London-based thinktank InfluenceMap published a report on Facebook’s failure to enforce its own policies on fossil fuel industry misinformation. InfluenceMap identified 6,782 industry ads on the platform last year promoting claims that natural gas is a green or low carbon fuel, in contradiction to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (The Guardian has your summary).
  • The Stanford Internet Observatory has launched a new journal: The Journal of Online Trust and Safety, devoted to research on the harms and responses to harms from consumer internet services.

Events and Announcements

  • August 26: Stanford is hosting a conference on Social Media and COVID-19 Misinformation. Registration & call for papers and abstracts is 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.
  • 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 7 – 8: The annual Truth and Trust Online (TTO) conference will take place online. Submit a paper or talk proposal here.
  • October 26 – 27: EU DisinfoLab’s Annual Conference in person. Pre-Registration is open here.