Disinfo News and Updates
- Russian Disinformation. Yesterday Putin ordered “peacekeeping troops” into the Ukrainian separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. For days Moscow had been falsely accusing Ukraine of preparing an attack in the breakaway regions, while Russia massively built up its troops on the border. EUvsDisinfo and DFRLab overview the most prominent Kremlin narratives laying the ground for military aggression.
- “SorosLeaks”. In the lead up to the Hungarian parliamentary elections (April 3), the daily newspaper of the Hungarian government is orchestrating a prolific and ‘ultra-professional’ information operation. Almost every day, the publication releases a story allegedly from activists testifying to the existence of a “Soros Network”, in an attack on the Hungarian-born American philanthropist George Soros and the Open Society Foundations.
- Smearing Swedish Social Services. The Swedish Foreign Ministry was forced to debunk claims that Swedish social service agencies are kidnapping Muslim children in the country. Misleading messages and videos taken out of context spread quickly across Sweden and the MENA region.
EU Policy Monitor
- INGE Committee in Washington. A delegation of MEPs from the Parliamentary Special Committee on Foreign Interference are on a three-day visit to Washington DC to meet officials and key stakeholders. They will discuss EU – US cooperation on information manipulation (particularly Moscow’s efforts in Ukraine), safeguarding critical infrastructure and electoral processes, and other key topics from the Committee’s draft report.
- Digital Services Act. The second political trilogue took place on February 15th. While most of the text remains to be discussed, negotiators have covered key articles like Article 26 on Risk Assessments. They’ve agreed that content moderation includes not only decisions to remove content, but also to demonetise and delist content, according to Politico. Meanwhile the Commission recently proposed a compromise on how intermediary services should handle notifications of illegal content from users, clarifying the concept of “actual knowledge” (Article 14). The next political trilogue is expected on March 15th, with five more technical meetings between now and then. Lead rapporteur MEP Christel Schaldermose remains optimistic about a June agreement.
- Digital Markets Act. While DSA is moving fast, the Digital Markets Act is going even faster. The text could be finalised as soon as April, according to lead rapporteur MEP Andreas Schwab, though tensions remain between the Parliament and Council views on the enforcement of the regulation.
EU DisinfoLab Monthly Trends
Highlights from this month’s monitoring in France, Germany, and Spain:
- Several French personalities were invited by the extreme-right of the Luxembourg Parliament to contribute to the debate on compulsory vaccination. They made conspiratorial claims, such as that vaccines have caused tens of thousands of deaths in Europe and the US.
- Twitter account @Watch_greens posted a video with manipulated subtitles that allegedly showed the Russian Defence Minister and Vladimir Putin mocking Annalena Baerbock’s latest visit to Ukraine. This was later described as a satirical action “to highlight the absurdity of Baerbock’s offer of long-term aid to secure Ukrainian independence in the context of the immediate danger of war”.
- In early January, a well-known Spanish misinformer published a text and audio message on Telegram, claiming that the army was preparing a “climate coup using geoengineering” for the end of the month, in agreement with the Spanish government and George Soros. This would allegedly consist of “major snowfall causing a collapse, a blackout, cutting electricity, gas, and phones”.
The Latest from the EU DisinfoLab
- The WeVerify project is in its wrap-up phase, and can celebrate some key achievements like launch of a verification plug-in which provides users with a variety of tools aimed at empowering them to verify cross-modal information and to debunk disinformation. WeVerify has seen 71,000 monthly users actively using its plug-in. A great success for the project and for this tool, which will live on after the project completion. EU DisinfoLab was proud to contribute to such an impactful initiative, together with several partners: ONTOTEXT, The University of Sheffield, Deutsche Welle, AFP, ATC and CERTH.
- Join our team! EU DisinfoLab is looking for a Project Officer!
Research & Reflections
- Héloïse Théro and Emmanuel M.Vincent at the SciencesPo Médialab examine the effectiveness of Facebook’s efforts to crack down on ‘repeat offenders’, or users that repeatedly share misinformation.
- In Euractiv: how “elves armies”- ‘cyberactivist’ volunteer groups responding to disinformation, particularly to Russian disinformation in the CEE countries – could benefit from the Digital Service Act’s data access provisions.
- Wired speaks to the open source investigators who have been verifying and mapping (TikTok) videos of troop movements in Russia and Belarus over the past weeks.
Events and Announcements
- Today CheckFirst is launching 22vlalapub.fr, a tool to follow the 2022 French presidential candidates and their parties’ ads on Meta social platforms. This will help you discover who finances those ads, who they’re distributed to, and more.
- Bellingcat’s Investigative Tech Team is building free tools for digital researchers. Fill out their survey to help them decide what to build! More here.
- 23 February. The Global Disinformation Index is hosting its virtual Italy Market Review. Register here.
- Until March 15. Anyone interested in disinformation and Media and Information Literacy? YouVerify! launched the season 2 of the MOOC. Learn more here.
- March 2. ARTICLE 19’s Team Digital is looking for advocates to join their 2022-2023 Internet of Rights Fellowship cohort. The 12-month fellowship has three tracks: Censorship, Connectivity, and Datafication. Apply here.
- 24-25 March. EDMO is organising a Training on Evaluating the Impact of Media Literacy Initiatives. More information here.
- 29-30 March. BBC Academy Fusion and Trusted News Initiative present its online conference, “Trust in News 2022: Fighting disinformation.” Register here.
- 6-10 June. The 11th Edition of RightsCon is now open and offers sessions around human rights in the digital age. Get your ticket here.
- Spread the word and apply now: EU DisinfoLab is looking for a Project Officer. Find all information here.
- The Global Disinformation Index (GDI) is recruiting a Data Analyst who specialises in open source intelligence.
- Just a few more days to apply to the IT Systems Support and Development Officer vacancy opened at mamaCash!
- The European Partnership for Democracy has several open positions. Find out more here.
- CERRE is looking for an administrative assistant to help deliver its programme of research projects and events. Apply here.
- Civil Society Europe is recruiting a Policy and Membership Officer to support the work on programmes and coordinate with members.
- AlgorithmWatch is looking for a Policy & Advocacy Manager.
- AccessNow is recruiting a #KeepItOn Data Analyst.