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Disinformation in the EU Bubble
Last Wednesday, EUvsDisinfo uncovered that EP Today – the self-proclaimed “monthly news magazine for the European Parliament” – has in fact been syndicating content from Voice of America and Russia Today. Topping 145K likes on Facebook, EP Today misled readers into thinking that the website is affiliated with the European Parliament.
After reading EUvsDisinfo’s investigation, we decided to dig deeper into the source of this website. As EUvsDisinfo highlighted, EP Today’s Facebook page is managed from India, and upon closer inspection, it seemed as though the website’s original content had been pushing Indian interests. We eventually found that a Brussels-based Indian consultancy firm is behind the website. For further details on how we discovered this, you can read our mini OSINT investigation here.
The next day the European Parliament passed a resolution on disinformation and foreign interference, and ironically, EP Today later took to social media to announce the news. We’ll leave this here…
EP Today’s Twitter account has since been suspended, but its Facebook account still remains active.
Gearing up for 2020
Last week, The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the second installment of their investigation on Russian social media interference in the 2016 U.S. Election. Wired broke this down for us, but it should be underscored that the “Committee chastises social media companies for being stingy with information on how foreign actors manipulated their platforms”. In related news, on Friday, U.S. Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren revealed that she’d paid for a Facebook advertisement filled with false claims about Trump and Zuckerberg, highlighting how Facebook is complicit in the dissemination of disinformation. Warren took this opportunity to emphasise how Facebook’s changes to its advertising policy jeopardise the integrity and fairness of democratic deliberation, especially in light of the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election.
The Brussels’ Corner
- Last week, the European Parliament hearings of both Margrethe Vestager and Věra Jourová went very smoothly, and they were later confirmed.
- On the other hand, Sylvie Goulard was overwhelmingly rejected by the European Parliament, and now Emmanuel Macron must go back to the drawing board and put forward a new name.
- How Telegram became white nationalists’ go-to messaging platform: Vice has an exclusive analysis revealing that 150 far-right channels have been created since 2019.
- A well-funded and well-coordinated disinformation campaign in West Papua has been uncovered by Bellingcat researchers. The campaign was operated by an Indonesian consultancy that has been disseminating pro-Indonesian government propaganda material on the issue of West Papua.
- Responsible Reporting in an Age of Information Disorder: First Draft has released an essential guide that provides a blueprint of editorial guidelines and ethics for media and journalists to follow.
- According to a new report by Oxford Information Labs, the self-regulation of social media platforms is failing to curb disinformation. More specifically, the report looks at the impact of algorithmic changes made by social media platforms through a digital marketing lens.
Events and Announcements
- The European Commission has launched a call to create the European Digital Media Observatory. Please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org in case you would like to discuss this project.
- Public Libraries 2030 are partnering with NewsGuard to help introduce their media literacy tool to European libraries.
- As you may already know, EU DisinfoLab will jointly host an event with Public Knowledge in Washington D.C. next week on the 22nd, and our very own Alexandre will be there. He’d love to see some familiar faces (and new ones, of course).
- 15 October @ Press Club, Brussels: An Overview of EU Action on Tackling Disinformation: Belgian Action Against Disinformation and Insights on Alt-right Disinformation Networks in France and Belgium with EU DisinfoLab.
- 16 October @ EU DisinfoLab webinar – ‘Digital Architectures, Social Engineering, and Networked Disinformation on Social Media’ with Michael Bossetta. Pre-register here.
- 12 November @ ECAS, Brussels: Online Disinformation: Finding the silver bullet in the digital world.
- 20 November @ Press Club, Brussels: Modernizing Europe’s Rules for Digital Services hosted by the Center for Data Innovation.
- Science Po Média Lab is hiring a Researcher for their project on the ‘Influence of Algorithmic Practices and Choices of Web Platforms on Access to Climate Change Information’.
- Twitter is looking for a Public Policy Fellow for its Brussels’ office.
- Digital Action is hiring a Project Lead.
- The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University seeks two fellows to join its Assembly: Disinformation Program.