Google pitches in

Today, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai made a public call stressing the need for AI regulation that doesn’t limit AI’s potential and capabilities. This has conveniently come at the moment of a leaked European Commission draft white paper on the European approach to artificial intelligence. In related news, Google has announced it will phase out third-party cookies within the next two years; a move believed to “give users transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used”. BBC News has summarised this for us.

Intra-EU Disinformation: From Poland to France

Last week, in cooperation with Politico, we released our investigation into – a site that presents itself as a “French news website”, hiding the fact it’s managed by a Polish far-right network. In speaking to Politico, EU Commission Věra Jourová noted that this kind of intra-EU disinformation will be addressed in the prospective European Democracy Action Plan. Since our investigation, France Libre 24’s Twitter has been suspended, but its Facebook page still remains active.

In the news

— The Norwegian Consumer Council released a study revealing that apps such as Grindr and OkCupid shared user data in a way that violated privacy laws such as GDPR. The study found that at least 10 apps had leaked data about users’ sexuality, religion, and location to more than 100 third parties.

— A BBC News investigation has exposed how relatively easy it is to micro-target neo-Nazis and homophobes on Twitter by using its ads tool. The BBC reached this conclusion by running an ad targeted at three different audiences based on sensitive keywords. The ad cost a mere £3.84. 

Good reads

— A recent piece in The Atlantic warns about the threat of bots and AI-powered fake text generators in destroying online political discourse, resulting in the drowning out of actual human discussions. 

— Coda Story has released a thought-provoking video series titled Generation Gulag, which explores the impact of Russia’s efforts to rewrite history in order to better understand how distorting the past serves regimes today.


Disinformation optimised: gaming search engine algorithms to amplify junk news – this study looks into how search engine optimisation strategies are used to target audiences with disinformation or political propaganda. These websites use “data voids” to fill gaps and generate conspiracies and/or disinformation around top placements such as the Holocaust and Barack Obama.

— Avaaz has released a report on how YouTube is actively promoting climate misinformation to millions of users. Among the report’s findings, for the search term “global warming,” 16% of the top 100 related videos included under the up-next feature had misinformation about climate change. The Verge has a concise summary of the study.

Events and Announcements

— EU DisinfoLab is taking part in an independent assessment of the Code of Practice, led by VVA Economics and Policy. This assessment is being conducted on behalf of the European Commission. To do this, VVA has created a survey to collect expert feedback on the Code’s effectiveness. Please let us know what you think via this link.

— 23 January 1:30 pm – 3 pm @ European Parliament, Brussels – European Parliamentary Research Service’s book talk with Peter Pomerantsev on “This is not propaganda”

— 24 March @ Brussels, Belgium – Digital Services Act Conference

— 25 March @ Brussels, Belgium – Center for Data Innovation’s European AI Policy Conference

— As part of our new website, we have a page dedicated to the latest events on disinformation.


— Twitter is hiring a Public Policy Manager to be based in Brussels.

— Bellingcat is looking for a part-time Editor.