Disinfo News and Updates

  • Alexei Navalny. The Russian prosecutor general’s office has called for websites and social media platforms to be restricted if they are used to encourage participation in protests against the detention of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
  • Parler’s partial comeback. Since AWS cut its hosting services, the social media site Parler has partially returned to operation, but the security services it is receiving from Russian-owned DDoS-Guard could eventually expose it to Russian surveillance schemes.
  • DarkMarket Takedown. Europol supported the takedown of the dark web’s largest illegal marketplace. The removal was the result of cross border collaboration involving Germany, Australia, Denmark, Moldova, Ukraine, the UK, and the US. 
  • Australian Digital Media CodeFacebook has asked the Australian government to postpone the implementation of their new digital media code, threatening to block users in Australia from posting or sharing links to news if the bill passed. Google has also threatened to make its search engine unavailable in Australia if media code is enforced.

EU Policy Monitor

In the EU Institutions

  • Political Ad Transparency – Public Consultation. The European Commission has opened the call for feedback on their initiative for Transparency in Political Advertising, a legislative proposal announced in the European Democracy Action Plan. Provide your feedback before April 2nd.
  • Digital Services Act. The EPP has released a position paper on the DSA in which they suggest ‘legal takedowns’ address only illegal content, and advocate for a co-regulatory approach for harmful content, which includes disinformation. They also advocate for the creation of a European digital identity to ensure that, “while maintaining anonymity, everyone is digitally identifiable where this is necessary”.
  • Artificial Intelligence. Tomorrow (Wednesday), the Parliament’s Special Committee on AI will hold a morning hearing on AI governance and the European Green Deal. Consult the draft programme.
  • INGE Committee Update. Yesterday and today the Parliament’s Special Committee on Foreign Interference is holding hearings on “Possible threats of interference from third countries in a geopolitical context”. Yesterday members discussed with experts on the interference from China. Today experts, including EU DisinfoLab, will speak about interference from Iran, India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In Member States

  • Austria. Last week the Austrian government presented their ‘ambituous’ anti-Semitism strategy. The government is also considering enlarging their list of banned symbols and taking more action on the spread of conspiracy ideologies on social media like Facebook and Telegram.
  • Hungary.  Hungary’s Minister of Justice stated that the practice of ‘shadow banning’ (blocking or partially blocking a user so their content is less visible) is a threat to freedom of expression and must be addressed through regulatory measures. She accuses Facebook of limiting “Christian, conservative, right-wing opinions”.
  • Italy. The Italian Data Protection Authority has announced it will temporarily block TikTok for users whose age cannot be verified, following the death of a 10-year-old girl who participated in a ‘choking challenge’.

New Publication by EU DisinfoLab: “The Many Faces Fighting Disinformation”

Yesterday we released our latest publication, “The Many Faces Fighting Disinformation: Safeguarding Civil Society’s Role in the Response to Information Disorders”, a panorama of innovative, multidisciplinary actors tackling dis and misinformation. Civil society is rising to the disinformation challenge with new types of expertise, like open source investigative research and digital forensics, crowdsourced participation, consumer literacy and data activism tools. They are exploring unusual partnerships and experimenting with new techniques. This is a new sector taking shape.

Despite their critical role in our information ecosystem, their long-term security and sustainability are not assured. They face capacity issues and novel risks. This project sought to highlight their contributions and successes, but also to understand these challenges.

Many thanks to the actors interviewed in this project, and to the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom for their support.

Read more on the project blog, where you can also download the magazine: disinfo.eu/manyfaces

Research, Studies, Long Reads…

  • Claire Wardle and Eric Singerman have published an article in the BMJ, “Too little, too late: social media companies’ failure to tackle vaccine misinformation poses a real threat.”
  • Graphika has released a new report, “Echoes of fake news”, focused on a cluster of Facebook groups, pages, and accounts linked to a network of websites promoting anti-Western, anti-Ukranian, and pro-Kremlin content.
  • In The Conversation: scientists create a ‘psychological vaccine’ to protect against COVID-19 misinformation: “Our solution is to inoculate people against false information – and we’ve borrowed from the logic of real-life vaccines to inform our approach.”
  • In Scientific Americain: “Twitter Bots Are a Major Source of Climate Disinformation”. A recent paper in the journal Climate Policy is part of a growing body of research about the role of bots in online climate discourse.

Events and Announcements

  • 27 January – The Forum on Information and Democracy is holding a webinar to move forward on the 250 recommendations of their ​report on how to fight Infodemics​. Register here
  • 29 January – EuroDIG (the European Dialogue on Internet Governance) will host a virtual Extra session on their recent publication Media and Content: A Decade of Change – Coping with the digital shake-up. Sign-up here.
  • 29 January – The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and the Friends in Defence of Democracy are holding a webinar on “Defending Democracy from Disinformation”. More info here
  • The UN Special Rapporteur has issued a call for contributions for her next report on disinformation. Contribute here.
  • Tactical Tech has added seven new chapters to their kit, “Exposing the Invisible”, covering signs & symbols, political advertising on Facebook, investigating companies, safety in investigations, visual evidence, bio-investigation and evaluating evidence and sources. Access the full kit here.


  • The Ada Lovelace Institute is seeking a Researcher – Algorithm Accountability and Research Ethics.
  • The Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament is looking for a full-time IMCO adviser to work on digital policy.