Media Exemption Update

On Friday, November 5, a coalition of over 50 journalists, fact-checkers, disinformation researchers and digital rights activists published a letter urging MEPs in the Digital Services Act’s lead committee (IMCO) to reject any proposal that would include a media exemption. Read the letter in English here and in French here. Julian Jaursch, policy director at the non-profit think tank Stiftung Neue Verantwortung and one of the letter’s signatories, offers an analysis of the unintended consequences of failing to moderate media publishers. 

During her testimony before the EU Parliament on November 8, Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen warned lawmakers to beware of loopholes: “Let me be very clear — every modern disinformation campaign will exploit news media channels on digital platforms by gaming the system.”

The last Slovenian compromise text from November 10th  does not include the feared amendment.

Disinfo News and Updates

  • #RumoursAboutGermany. Germany’s ministry of foreign affairs updated its information initiative to address myths and false promises encouraging refugees to try to pass through Belarus and Poland to reach Germany – a migration trend exploited by the Lukashenko regime. More from Lukashenko’s efforts from EU vs. Disinfo.
  • COP26. The Conscious Advertising Network (CAN) led an open letter demanding that COP26 leaders and social media platforms adopt a clear definition of climate dis/misinformation and take actions to address it.
  • Paris Peace Forum. Last week at the Paris Peace Forum, the European Commission and the United States announced they are joining the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, who’s principles include commitments to address domestic disinformation and malign foreign interference, among others.

EU Policy MonitorIn the EU Institutions 

  • Digital Services Act.  The Slovenian Presidency’s last compromise asks very large online platforms (VLOPS) not to prevent researchers from using public data in their examination of systemic risks. Meanwhile, lead rapporteur Christel Schaldemose is considering a new amendment on the legal responsibility of very large platforms for their algorithmic recommendation systems.
  • Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. Last week the EP voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution to protect journalists and dissidents from abusive lawsuits (SLAPP). An “ambitious legal framework” is set to be included in the upcoming Media Freedom Act.
  • Whistleblower Protections in the DMA. The latest compromise text of the Digital Markets Act from MEP Andreas Schwab’s (EPP) introduces whistleblower protections into the text.

EU DisinfoLab October Trends

Here are our highlights of disinformation trends from our October monitoring of fact-checked disinformation in France, Germany, and Spain:

  • In France, conservative TV channel Cnews presented a meeting between Eric Zemmour and a Muslim woman who agreed to take off her veil as spontaneous, when it was actually staged, with the risk of amplifying religious polarisation in the country.
  • In Germany, Russian state media Russia Today is appealing to the court for a temporary withdrawal of YouTube’s deletion of German-language channels, accusing the platform of censorship. Meanwhile, Facebook blacklisted neo-Nazi fringe party “Der Dritte Weg”, NPD’s youth organisation, and “Pro NRW”.
  • In Spain, the false claim tweeted by an account called “AnonymousNews_” went viral, alleging that Facebook had been hacked and that confidential data had been stolen. In a case of double disinformation, the hoax turned against the transmitter, as the account was deemed responsible for the hacking operation which had never occurred.

Reports, Briefings, Recommendations…

  • The European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA) adopted their recommendations for the new Code of Practice on Disinformation on November 5th.
  • The European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO)’s Fact Checking network released their latest briefing, which finds Italy to be the new epicenter of Covid-19 related disinformation.
  • The Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET) has released a report on why mis/disinformation develops in the wake of terror attacks and how it is leveraged by extremist groups.

Events and Announcements

  • Nov 17- 18: The Thomas Reuters Foundation Trust Conference takes place online. More info here.
  • Nov 18: At 17:15 CET, the Panoptykon, ARTICLE 19, Access Now, and EPD are hosting a webinar on recommender systems in the Digital Services Act. Register here.
  • Nov 18: At 18:30 CET, Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli is hosting a talk with Ben Scott on the challenges and opportunities of our data economy for democracy in the digital era. Follow the live-streamed event here or register here to attend it in person if you happen to be in Milan.
  • June 2-4: Save the date for the 17th edition of the GLOBSEC Bratislava forum.
  • The YouCheck! project by Savoir Devenir launched a four week MOOC, “Disinformation Step by Step”. More info here.
  • Slide decks and photos from our conference #Disinfo2021 are online. Take a look here!