Beginning this week, this newsletter will become bi-weekly, rather than weekly.
We’ll still be here to help you sort through the most important research and developments in the EU disinfo space.
Thanks as always for your readership!

Disinfo News and Updates

  • Fake Reviews on Amazon. A recent Amazon blog post attributes the company’s long-standing problem of fake product reviews to “bad actors attempting to solicit fake reviews outside Amazon, particularly via social media services.”
  • Vaccine Hesitancy on Nextdoor. The social networking platform for neighborhoods, Nextdoor, is an overlooked actor when it comes to misinformation and conspiracy theories.
  • Friction on Facebook!?. Last week, Facebook released a suite of additional tools for group moderators to help them moderate problematic behavior via a new ‘Admin Home’ platform. New tools include AI-driven conflict alerts warning admins of “contentious or unhealthy conversations“.

EU Policy Monitor

In the EU Institutions

  • Digital Services Act. On Friday, the Parliament published the hundreds of amendments to the DSA draft opinion from the civil liberties (LIBE) committee, which range from including search engines, live streaming services and messaging services in scope on the one hand, to guaranteeing the right to anonymity and encryption on the other.
  • GDPR. In a June 15 ruling, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) found that the Belgian data protection agency (APD) was within its rights in suing Facebook for GDPR violations, interpreting that a data protection agency may sue a company established in another Member State.

In Member States

  • Poland. On Friday, Poland submitted a document to Member States, the Commission, and the Council on the details of a cyberattack that targeted high ranking Polish politicians and officials. The letter linked the attack to Russian territory and asserted that the attack sought “to compromise democratic values”.
  • Germany. A ministry assessment by German broadcaster ARD found an increase in cyberattacks, including against political foundations and parties, poses a serious threat in the lead up to September elections, in part because captured data could be used for influence operations. More on the German elections from Politico’s Mark Scott and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (in German).

Research, Resources, Long Reads…

  • Coda Story studies the complex web of sources spreading Covid-19 skepticism in Spain: “an eclectic mix of rightwing sympathizers, anti-establishment activists and conspiracy theorists” as well as “Latin American media outlets, Russian disinformation networks and Chinese dissidents”.
  • Der Spiegel takes a look at the elusive Dubai-based Russian billionaire, Pavel Durov, founder and owner of the controversial messaging service Telegram.
  • The Partnership on AI is building a database to study the variety of interventions by which platforms respond to mis and disinformation. This resource, along with blog post analyses, will serve as a kind of taxonomy of content moderation. (At EU DisinfoLab, we’ve evaluated platform interventions regarding Covid-19 mis/disinfo in the EU context with a 7-point typology).
  • In an op-ed published in Euractiv, representatives of four NGOs defend risk assessments as a key accountability measure in the Digital Services Act: “risk assessment and audit present a route out of the content moderation whack-a-mole“.

Events and Announcements

  • 22 – 25 June: The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) hosts 360/Open Summit. More here.
  • 24 June: Avaaz is hosting an online conference on the new Code of Practice and the Digital Services Act : “Towards a Paris Agreement for Disinformation?” Speakers include EU Vice President Commissioner Věra Jourová, European Parliament DSA Rapporteur Christel Schaldemose, and representatives of Twitter, Facebook, and EU DisinfoLab. Register here
  • 28 – 29 June: The EU Fundamental Rights Agency FRA is hosting an online panel and workshops for Human Rights communication stakeholders on how to navigate disinformation. More here.
  • 1 July: During their 47th meeting in Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will hold an interactive dialogue with Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, on her special report on Disinformation.
  • The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Best Practice Forum on Gender and Digital Rights is beginning work on the concept of gendered disinformation. Learn more about their work here, contribute to their survey, or attend their next meeting on June 25.