Good morning, Disinfo Update readers!

The EU DisinfoLab team wishes you a Happy New Year! We hope you’ve had a restful break and are ready for the long road ahead in EU digital policy and the fight against disinformation. 

Any news or events you’d like to share with the counter-disinformation community? Don’t hesitate to send them our way by replying to this email.

Enjoy the read!

Disinfo news & updates

  • Brazil democracy under threat. On Sunday, supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed three government buildings in Brazil over false claims of a rigged election – scenes which echo the U.S. Capitol riot on 6 January, 2021. This article shares how Brazilian researchers “detected a surge in aggressive rhetoric from election denialists in far-right channels online ahead of Sunday’s rioting”.
  • Political ads. Back in 2019, Twitter had prohibited political and issue-based ads amidst a general concern that politicians could pay to target social media users with widespread misinformation. Last week, the social media platform eased that ban on cause-based ads. Twitter added that it would “expand the political advertising we permit in the coming weeks.”
  • Anti-terrorism content tool. Tech Against Terrorism and Google’s R&D unit Jigsaw have developed a free tool to help smaller online platforms moderate terrorist content.
  • More algorithmic clarity. End of December, TikTok announced that users will soon better understand why a video has been suggested to them through their ‘For You’ feed. The new “Why this video” button will provide users with more explanation as to why specific content was recommended to them. This feature should be available “within the coming weeks.”

EU policy monitor 

  • Welcome Sweden 2023! New year. New Presidency of the Council of the EU. Congratulations to Sweden for taking over the leadership. We hope for fruitful cooperation in the six months to come! Here are the Presidency priorities. You can explore the Swedish Presidency through songs too! 
  • Why does the DSA matter to the counter-disinformation community? While Brussels and the rest of the EU are coming back from year-end holidays, why not use this time for a refresher on disinformation and the DSA? Watch the replay of our Conference DSA Masterclass and check out our DSA User Guide. In addition, the Commission published its 2022 Annual Report on the Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. It reiterates that very large online platforms and search engines would benefit from consultations with civil society when complying with their risk management obligations in the DSA (page 12). 

What we’re reading

  • Google’s Display Network. This vast ProPublica’s investigation cracks open Google’s black box ad business and unveils a “network containing manga piracy, porn, fraud and disinformation.”
  • Silent crusade. To kick 2023 off, El País Semanal published an extensive piece about disinformation and information manipulation, featuring many of the European stakeholders engaged in the fight against disinfo.
  • France’s fight against disinformation. This case study looks into the 2021 set up of Viginum, a new unit to “detect and monitor foreign online information manipulation” and its role during the 2022 French Presidential elections.
  • Agents of influence. In Germany, some pro-Putin operatives are busy working towards turning Berlin against Ukraine. “Some of the loudest agitators for a change in German policy have two faces. Some use aliases, and have undisclosed ties to Russia and Russian entities under international sanctions, or to far-right organisations.”

The latest from EU DisinfoLab

  • Odysee list of geo-blocking requests. This recent analysis focused on video-sharing platform Odysee, and based on a 3,000+ list of access restrictions, shows that the EU and European Member States are far from doing enough, even on possibly illegal content.
  • Disinformation on Telegram. This Technical Document clarifies Telegram operates, and can be exploited for disinformative purposes. 
  • Conference materials. Have you checked all our 2022 conference materials yet? Besides our picture selection, the recordings and slideshows of some sessions, you’ll find our latest legacy: the conference dossier, a recap of what’s been discussed, exchanged and learned. 

Events & announcements

  • 13 January. EDMO is looking for experts who would be interested in joining a taskforce that will contribute to developing a methodology and the requisites for its implementation for Structural Indicators to assess the impact of the Code of Practice on Disinformation.
  • 25 January. Media Defence is organising a webinar ‘Visual Storytelling: the challenges faced by journalists working with images’ (2PM GMT). Sign up here.
  • 25 January. EDRI #PrivacyCamp23 will take place in Brussels. Register here for this event bringing together activists, academia, and decision makers around the topic of digital rights. 
  • 7 February. “Beyond Disinformation: EU Responses to the Threat of Foreign Information Manipulation” conference organised by EEAS in Brussels. You have until January 20 to register.
  • The website of the launched in December. As one of the partners of this European project focusing on disinformation analysis and AI supported verification tools and services, we’re very happy to surf on this platform where you will find all the latest updates about the project.
  • AI to avoid trauma? The Deutsche Welle and the Mever team are conducting an investigation to find out if people who have to deal with gruesome or disturbing imagery could be spared its negative consequences by using technology (e.g. by applying AI-generated filters). Any input to share? Participate by filling out this questionnaire!


This good tweet!