Tackling disinformation in Europe
Yesterday, we met with European Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová where we shared our experience and underscored the importance of civil society’s role in combating disinformation and upholding democratic values. Last Thursday, the European Parliament held a plenary debate on tackling COVID-19 disinformation. During the debate, MEP Bart Groothuis spoke about our latest investigation, highlighting that the EU should work towards making disinformation more expensive to produce. In a vote, the European Parliament also established a special committee on foreign interference in all democratic processes in the EU, including disinformation. Further details on the special committee’s competences can be found here.
Graphika’s Secondary Infektion
Spanning a massive six years (from 2014-2020), Graphika uncovered a series of operations run by a large-scale persistent threat actor from Russia.
- It produced at least 2,500 pieces of content in seven languages across over 300 platforms.
- Tactics included the use of single-use burner accounts to spread content and the forging of documents to confer credibility to the disinformation.
- Narratives and messages focused on nine main themes: “Ukraine as a failed state or unreliable partner,” “the US and NATO as aggressive and interfering in other countries,” and “Europe as weak and divided” to name just a few.
In the news
- Last Thursday, Twitter labelled Trump’s tweet about a ‘racist baby’ as manipulated media. The video shows a black child running away from a white child whilst playing, with a fake CNN caption.
- Facebook announced that it will now allow American users to opt-out of receiving political ads on Facebook and Instagram. This covers ads from candidates, super PACs, and other organisations that have the “paid for by” political disclaimer.
- Yesterday, it was formally announced that TikTok had joined the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation.
- How Facebook Groups are destroying America – This Wired piece rightly shines a light on the danger of Facebook Groups, arguing that the privacy and sense of community fostered by Groups can be easily exploited by bad actors to spread false information and conspiracies with relative ease.
- Free Expression, Harmful Speech and Censorship in a Digital World – Knight Foundation’s report takes a closer look at the American public’s views towards freedom of expression online and social media regulation, such as section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
- Reuters Institute has released its annual Digital News Report. Interestingly, according to the report’s sample, domestic politicians are seen as most responsible (40%) for false and misleading information online, followed by political activists (14%), journalists (13%), ordinary people (13%), and foreign governments (10%).
- According to new research conducted in the UK, people who believe in conspiracy theories are more likely to be getting their information about COVID-19 from social media. Specifically, 60% of those who believe the symptoms are linked to 5G radiation say that much of their COVID-19 information comes from YouTube. CNBC has a concise write up of the report here.
Events and Announcements
- Developed against a backdrop of rapidly accelerating state action on COVID-19 related disinformation, the Disinformation Tracker details and analyses all laws, policies, and other government actions on disinformation across Sub-Saharan Africa.
- 22-30 June @ International Fact-Checking Network virtual conference – Global Fact7 Virtual.
- 23 June, 15:00 CEST @ GLOBSEC webinar – Democratic Vulnerabilities: How to rebuild the trust?
- 23 June, 17:00 CEST @ CERRE debate – Global online platforms: one, two or three regulatory models?
- 23 June, 11:00 EST @ Reuters virtual event – Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s 2020 Digital News Report – insights for American media.
- 26 June, 16:00 CEST @ CEPA webinar – Common Crisis: A Conversation with Vice President Věra Jourová.
- 29 June, 16:00 CEST @ EU DisinfoLab webinar – Project RiPOST: How to penetrate filter bubbles to fight false information.
- Institute for Strategic Dialogue is hiring Digital Analysts.