La Verdadera Izquierda: the sale of accounts on the black market
Back in May, we released an investigation on how an anonymous Spanish alternative blog called La Verdadera Izquierda, which spreads disinformation and polarizing content, had been using the Amazon Associates program to fund its activities. During this investigation, we identified social media accounts clearly connected to the network that had acted suspiciously. Based on our findings, an investigation from El Diario revealed that these accounts had in fact been resold for a profit on a black market.
Having your say on EU efforts against disinformation
In case you had plans for the summer, such as a long vacation on the beach, the European Commission plans to keep you busy. A couple of weeks after the release of the consultation on the Digital Services Act, the European Commission has now opened the consultation on the European Democracy Action Plan roadmap. Both consultations are open to the public. These are key European regulatory files for the fight against disinformation, so we really encourage you to submit your contributions.
- Consultation on the Digital Services Act: open until 08/09.
- Consultation on the roadmap for the European Democracy Action Plan: open until 28/08.
In the news
- The names of the MEPs who will sit on the European Parliament’s new foreign interference and disinformation special committee were announced last Friday. Information on the committee’s competences can be found here.
- Facebook released the results of its independent civil rights audit last week. On the topic of content moderation, the audit was specifically critical of Facebook’s hands-off approach towards the US president’s posts as well as its stance on free speech. A concise write up of the audit can be found here.
- Peter Pomerantsev reflects on what it means to be a democratic citizen online in a new piece, affirming that it should mean understanding who targets content at you and how (and using which data), as well as having public oversight of algorithms to understand how the information environment is shaped around us.
- Cultural factors are behind disinformation pandemic: why this matters – In order to combat dis– and misinformation with appropriate policy, this piece argues we must move towards viewing mis/disinformation practices worldwide as culturally and context-specific, each requiring tailored solutions.
- Ibuprofen narratives in five European countries during the COVID-19 pandemic – This study follows how an unverified story about the adverse effects of using Ibuprofen for treating COVID-19 travels on Twitter, finding that the impact of misinformation is massive when credible sources participate in its propagation.
- Institut Montaigne and ISD have released a policy paper titled “Information Manipulations around COVID-19: France under attack,” which looks at the circulation of different narratives and pieces of disinformation in French online discussion groups during the pandemic.
Events and Announcements
- Recently, the European Commission announced a €9 million tender for the creation of national fact-checking and research hubs tasked with fighting disinformation. The deadline for applications is 5 November. If you’re looking for more information about this tender, a webinar will be held on 16 July. In addition, please reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org in case you’re interested in collaborating with us.
- To ensure the experiences and concerns of the medical community are central to civil society’s fight against the infodemic, Digital Action has worked with their network, including EU DisinfoLab, on a call to evidence for the medical community experience. The call includes a short survey, which allows medical professionals to share their experience of the infodemic. Please do share the survey with any member of the medical community (individual medics or medical organisations) who may be interested or get in touch with Digital Action for more information: email@example.com.
- The Wikimedia/Yale Law School Initiative on Intermediaries and Information (WIII) is issuing a call for proposals on regulatory responses to misinformation. To be considered, please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words, a current CV, and a sample of your work to firstname.lastname@example.org by 25 July.
- 16 July, 17:00 CEST @ First Draft webinar – Reporting on coronavirus: How to use WhatsApp to find communities and stories Part 2.
- 16 July, 15:00 CEST @ CERRE live debate – Online platforms’ content moderation: towards a new approach?
- 21 July, 16:00 CEST @ Stiftung Neue Verantwortung – #StopHateForProfit – What can the Facebook advertising boycott achieve?
- We’re hiring a Communications and Advocacy Coordinator and a Communications and Advocacy Intern. If interested, please submit your application by Friday 17 July. More information can be found via this link.