Join us this Thursday from 3-4pm CET for an online discussion with Avaaz featuring their new research on Facebook’s enforcement measures, emerging threats and disinformation techniques seen during the US elections, and potential learnings for the EU: “Regulating Disinformation in the EU – Cautionary Tales from the US Elections”. Register here.

Also… you can sign up for our last workshop this week (also on Thursday) on how to spot disinformation. More info here.

Disinfo News and Updates

  • Indian regulation on digital media. Last Wednesday, the Indian government announced the regulation of online news portals and content providers under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in a first step to regulate digital media.
  • Misinformation before Brazilian elections. “Like the United States, Brazilians are voting amid a brutal pandemic, a deepening economic crisis – and a tidal wave of misleading and deceptive digital propaganda” reports Americas Quarterly.
  • Far-Right Flight. In response to content moderation on the major social networks, many conservatives are following far-right activists and politicians to the alternative social network Parler, a space that is ‘rife with disinformation’, and also has some noteworthy funding.
  • Fossil Fuel Industry AstroturfingThe New York Times investigated how the global consulting firm FTI helped implement misleading digital campaigns to fabricate grassroots support for fossil-fuel initiatives.

EU Policy Monitor

In the EU institutions

  • European Democracy Action Plan. Contexte has taken a peek at the Commission’s draft European Action Plan for Democracy (Edap). Due on December 2, the text will regulate political advertising, ensure online pluralism and impose new obligations against disinformation. 
  • Consumer Protection. On Friday the Commission presented its plans to strengthen consumer protection, which focuses one pillar on the digital transformation, including dark patterns and “unfair commercial practices in relation to online influencing techniques and personalisation”. 
  • Counterfeit. Earlier in the week, the Council had released its conclusions on Intellectual Property, noting concern over the prevalence of counterfeit goods sold in online marketplaces that threaten consumer health and safety.
  • IoT. The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) has released their guidelines on Internet of Things security throughout the supply chain and lifecycle.
  • Special Committee on Disinformation. The Parliamentary Special Committee on Foreign Interference and Disinformation (INGE) held their third exchange on November 12 with speakers from France’s cybersecurity agency ANSSI, the Atlantic Council and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In Member States

  • Slovenia. Domen Savic, director of Drzavljan D (Citizen D) writes in Foreign Policy on the propaganda efforts of Slovenia’s Prime Minister Janez Jansa.
  • Czech Republic. An investigation conducted by Aktuálně.cz alleges disinformation efforts by a Swiss organisation linked to the Chinese government to discredit Miloš Vystrčil, a Czech politician. has found Chinese and Russian intelligence to be “among most active” in influencing public opinion in the country.

Hold-up” – “Plandemic” à la française?

Since the beginning of last week, a new COVID-19 conspiratorial documentary called “Hold-up”  has been circulating on French-speaking social media. Claiming to reveal the truth about the manipulations and machinations behind the virus, the video contains at least 30 false or misleading assertions, according to an extensive debunking article from AFP Factuel. The French media France Inter assesses that it has generated at least 2.5M views online since last week. The producers of “Hold-up” have collected more than 370 000 euros through two crowdfunding platforms: Tipeee & Ulule. The possibility for disinformation actors to freely leverage crowdfunding platforms to finance their activities is a serious concern that EU DisinfoLab has highlighted previously. At the moment, actions taken by many platforms to limit the spread of the conspiratorial documentary appear  insufficient. As of this newsletter’s publication, two occurrences of the video remain on YouTube that have both generated more than 1M views. Vimeo took at least one day to remove the film from their video-on-demand section. On Facebook, not all of the viral posts including the video have been labeled as disinformation. Wikipedia France meanwhile has addressed the the moderation challenge by restricting editing rights for, and closely monitoring, the video’s Wikipedia entry.

Research, Studies, Reports

  • The Forum for Information and Democracy working group on infodemics has put out its first policy framework to address the structural causes of information chaos, 250 recommendations on how to stop “infodemics”.
  • A recent report by the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) shows that half of German news sites present a “medium risk of disinforming their online readers”.
  • The Center for Countering Digital Hate has published an audit of efforts by the largest social media platforms to address Covid-19 related misinformation, “Failure to Act How Tech Giants Continue to Defy Calls to Rein in Vaccine Misinformation”.
  • First Draft has published a report on the complexity of the vaccine information ecosystem, “Under the surface: Covid-19 vaccine narratives, misinformation and data deficits on social media”.

Events and Announcements

  • 19 Nov. 3pm CET. Join us for a webinar with Avaaz, “Regulating Disinformation in the European Union – Cautionary Tales from the US Elections”. Register here!
  • 20-21 Nov. The Wikimedia-Yale Law School Initiative on Intermediaries and Information is hosting an event on the global impacts of content moderation. Register here.
  • 26 Nov. VUB-IES will have the third installment of their series on the DSA #3 with Dr. Inge Graef. Sign up here.
  • Euro-Mediterranean Seismic Centre (EMSC) is accepting abstracts regarding misinformation related to hazards and risks at the next EGU conference in April 2021.
  • This year’s Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2020 session reports are available here.