Disinfo News and Updates

  • Facebook versus Transparency. Facebook delayed publishing a Q1 report on widely viewed content for fear of backlash as the most popular article on the platform between January and March cast doubt on the Covid-19 vaccine. Researchers have been questioning the company’s transparency efforts, as has a former Facebook executive who oversaw their CrowdTangle research tool before stepping down. Meanwhile, the German NGO AlgorithmWatch was pushed to shut down their Instagram monitoring project following threats from the company.
  • Endless Content Moderation? Social media platforms face the dilemma of how to deal with the presence of the Taliban, who researchers remark is increasingly skilled at digital propaganda.
  • UN Cybercrime Treaty. Human rights defenders fear the new binding international treaty on cybercrime – first proposed by Russia to replace the Budapest Convention – risks undermining fundamental rights.

EU Policy Monitor

In the EU Institutions 

  • La Rentrée. EU institutions and MEPs are going back to school next week! Committee meetings are scheduled in the LIBE committee (1 September, agenda here), including discussions on the Rule of Law report, in the IMCO committee (1 September, agenda will be available here once published), and the INGE committee (2 September, agenda will be available here).
  • Deepfakes. study conducted at the request of the European Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) recommends prohibiting some applications of ‘deepfake’ technology under the future AI legislation and regulating deepfake technology as “high-risk”.

In Member States

  • Lithuania. Tensions persist at the Lithuanian-Belarusian border in what officials have described as the weaponisation of migrants and “hybrid war, disinformation“. EUvsDisinfo has been tracking disinformation narratives on the issue.
  • Luxembourg. Russian broadcaster Russia Today has been denied a licence for its German-language channel in Luxembourg.
  • Poland. On August 12, the Polish parliament passed an amendment to their broadcast media law endangering the independence of the country’s largest private television broadcaster.

Investigations, Reports, Arguments …

  • Anna Gielewska and Julia Dauksza of VSquare have dug down into a large-scale cyber-espionage influence campaign in Poland, including a hack and leak operation that appears to be an offshoot of Ghostwriter. (Not to miss!).
  • Coda Story reports on how anti-vaxxers in the United States are expressing support for the Taliban online and the conspiracy theories set in motion by the Taliban takeover.
  • The Insikt Group have released an update to their April 2020 report on the continued activities and expanded tactics of Operation Secondary Infektion.
  • Julian Jaursch of the German think tank Stiftung Neue Verantwortung argues that regulatory oversight of digital platforms should come at the EU level. (article in German).
  • EU DisinfoLab Executive Director Alexandre Alaphilippe was cited by the Guardian on the EU’s struggle to address Covid mis and disinfo.

Events and Announcements

  • August 26: Stanford is hosting a conference on Social Media and COVID-19 Misinformation. Registration & call for papers and abstracts is here.
  • Sept 6 – October 10: Craig Silverman and Jane Lytvynenko are offering a course on investigative reporting through the Knight Center. More info here.
  • September 15 – 17: European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) is organising Democracy Week, a series of events on the theme “Stronger Together: Partnerships for supporting democracy”. More info here.
  • September 15 – 17: IPI, the International Press Institute, will co-host the 2021 World Congress in a hybrid format in Vienna and online. More info 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. Submit a paper or talk proposal here.
  • October 26 – 27: EU DisinfoLab’s Annual Conference in person. Pre-Registration is open here.