Disinfo News and Updates

  • EU Reporter, Influence for Sale. Politico’s Mark Scott investiated the Brussels news outlet EU Reporter, whose “blend of corporate press releases, original news and paid-for content makes it impossible for readers to determine who’s behind the coverage.
  • Wikipedia Infiltration. Following an investigation of coordinated efforts on the platform to promote “the aims of China“, the Wikimedia Foundation has banned seven mainland Chinese users from its websites and revoked privileges for 12 others.
  • “Coordinated Social Harm”. Facebook will adapt their approach for networks of fake accounts to networks of real accounts that do similar harm. They’ll also take a similar approach for campaigns of real users that cause “coordinated social harm” on and off the platform. They announced the latter as they removed a German anti-COVID restrictions Querdenken group.
  • (ICYMI) The Facebook Files. The Wallstreet Journal’s investigation into Facebook has been making waves, shedding light on its unequal policy enforcement (‘VIP’ accounts), the power of its algorithm to influence politics, the toxicity of Instagram for teenage girls, and illegal activity like human trafficking.

EU Policy Monitor

In the EU Institutions 

  • Commission Recommendation on Journalists. Vice-President Vera Jourova and Commissioner Thierry Breton presented the Commission’s non-legislative text on the protection of journalists, which encourages Member States to promote cooperation between online platforms and organizations specialising in defending journalists from attack by fostering their potential role as “trusted flaggers”.  
  • State of the Union. During her speech, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen mentioned the rise of hybrid threats against European democracies, including disinformation. She evoked the initiative on violence – including online violence – against women, and plans for future legislation on media freedom.

In Member States

  • Hungary. The Hungarian opposition primaries were suspended on Saturday after a suspected cyberattack
  • Portugal. A new media literacy website will help citizens defend themselves from the “traps of disinformation” that “undermine democracies”.

From the EU DisinfoLab:

We’re Hiring! 
Do you want to help us counter disinformation in Brussels? To support its Advocacy and Policy team, the EU DisinfoLab is currently looking for an Advocacy Coordinator. 
All information is available on our website here.

WeVerify Update
The WeVerify plugin has been redesigned and is offering new functionalities. Discover how disinformation spreads through the social network analysis tool and compare altered versions of image manipulations through CheckGif. Check out the latest version here. This version is currently available on Chrome (Firefox version is still ongoing).

Research, Reports, Campaigns …

  • Paul Charon and Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer of the French IRSEM (Institut de Recherche Stratégique de l’Ecole Militaire) release a deep analysis of the evolution of Chinese influence operations globally. (They draw on findings from EU DisinfoLab’s 2020 study on French-language Chinese state media.)
  • A new report from Logically tracks how German-language conspiracy groups on Telegram have raised at least €284,678 for conspiracy and far-right causes through hundreds of crowdfunding campaigns. 
  • NGO HateAid, along with the platform Anna Nackt, is calling on EU politicians to address image-based abuse (illegal in several member states) through the Digital Services Act by including additional requirements for pornography platforms.

Events and Announcements

  • The European Union is making EUR 3.75 million available for actions to support media freedom and investigative journalism. The call for proposals closes October 29. More here.
  • September 30: The political groups S&D, Renew Europe, The Greens/EFA and The Left within the European Parliament are co-hosting the Digital Future Summit, supported by Accountable Tech, EDRi and the Sum Of Us. Pre-register here.
  • October 7 – 8: The annual Truth and Trust Online (TTO) conference will take place online. More info here.