First glance at disinformation around the EU elections
One day after the EU elections, it is hard to draw final conclusions on the amplitude and impact of suspected disinformation campaigns. However, interesting studies conducted over the campaign period share complementary findings:
- Activist organisation Avaaz uncovered that far-right and anti-EU groups are weaponizing social media to spread false and hateful content. The study led to the take-down of dozens of Facebook pages around Europe which have been seen over half a billion times over the last three months.
- Data analysis company Alto Analytics also shows a number of cross-border themes such as immigration, Islam, Brexit, and the Yellow Vests, for example. Europe’s far-right leaders start using Facebook to transcend the borders as it is shown in the video about a Belgian politician sponsored by the Hungarian government. Such strategy represents a new trend in the spread of illiberalism in the EU, says Yiannis Baboulias in the Atlantic.
- ISD interim briefing on Elections Information Operations Analysis presents the move towards an aggressive “narrative competition”, promoting a “culture war” dynamic around issues like migration, Muslims in Europe, family vs. progressive values.
- By only analysing tweets related to the hashtags on EU elections, the Oxford Internet Institute found that the majority of news pieces shared on the topic came from mainstream news outlets. The study also focuses on junk news networks in Europe.
- Do these findings show that disinformation campaigns didn’t happen? EU vs Disinfo recalls us that domestic disinformation shouldn’t be seen as the “new normal” in the European political debate. Quite the contrary, fake news have evolved beyond the playbook used by Russian trolls in the U.S. election.
We will surely come back on this case study as further research pieces will be published.
Call me maybe?
Recently, RT America has been exaggerating the health hazards posed by 5G networks, the next most powerful generation of cell phone connectivity. Some experts suggest that this could be part of an economic warfare between Russia, China and the US on the rollout of 5G. At the same time, apart the RT’s efforts to sow doubt about 5G technology, new evidence reveal the Russian strategy to sow racial discord and violence in the U.S. The revelations come as U.S. intelligence agencies have warned of a probable Russian meddling in the 2020 election. According to Poynter, these and many other facts could be considered as a certain evolution of Russia’s disinformation strategy in the international arena.
Are you coming to the EU DisinfoLab Annual Conference?
The EU DisinfoLab Conference is taking place this week, on 28-29 May, in Brussels. Along two days, we will explore the phenomenon of disinformation and information disorder, from its roots to technical and regulatory responses. The event will gather the community of experts, people who concretely build tools and methodologies for monitoring and debunking disinformation. Moreover, the participants will have the unique chance to benefit from the cross-expertise of journalists, academics, civil society representatives and government officers from the EU, the US and Canada. If you can’t attend the event, follow it on Twitter under the hashtag #Disinfo2019. A summary article of the conference and the speakers’ presentations will be published on our website.
- Facebook has broken up a network of pages that spread fake news and Russian propaganda and promoted pro-Russian politicians in Poland for more than three years.
- According to the investigation led by a coalition of independent journalists “Investigate Europe”, Facebook and Google pressured EU experts to soften regulations on disinformation.
- Google announced new requirements for advertisers in the US, UK and Ireland regarding the Google Ads healthcare and medicines policy for abortion. These rules will be applicable as from June 2019.
- Wilton Park released its report “Digital interference in democratic processes: use and misuse of personal data” with support from Open Society Foundations (OSF) and in association with Tactical Technology Collective.
Calendar and announcements
- EU DisinfoLab is looking for a new research officer.
- 28-29 May @ Brussels: EU Commissioner to the Security Union, Sir Julian King will be concluding the debates of the Annual EU DisinfoLab Conference.
- 6-7 June @ Brussels: Annual Conference on European Media Law 2019.
- 11-14 June @ Tunis: RightsCon Summit on human rights in the digital age.
- 19-20 June @ UNESCO Headquarters in Paris: 63rd meeting of the International Programme for the Development of Communication.