Disinfo News and Updates

  • ICYMI. On July 18, Forbidden Stories and a consortium of 16 news outlets published the findings of an investigation into the use of the cyber-surveillance tool Pegasus, purchased from the Israeli security company NSO Group by governments to monitor persons of interest. The investigation is based on the leak of a list of 50,000 phone numbers, including journalists, human rights defenders, politicians and world leaders. The malware has been in use since 2016 and is able to penetrate phones without the phone user clicking on any links (‘zero-click malware’), making it easy to trigger and hard to detect. 
  • Moderating World Leaders. Last week YouTube removed videos posted by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, citing their content policies related to Covid-19 misinformation.
  • Dark Networking. A recent Google threat analysis report suggests that Russian government hackers targeted European government officials with LinkedIn messages containing malicious links designed to exploit unknown vulnerabilities in Windows and Apple.

EU Policy Monitor

  • Digital Services Act. Members of Parliament in the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) proposed their amendments to the draft opinion by rapporteur Geoffroy Didier (EPP). Tensions ran high on the distinction between active and passive hosts and the removal of illegal content within seven days. Meanwhile, the shadow rapporteur for the centre-left Socialists & Democrats group (S&D), Tiemo Wölken, proposed that whistleblowers inside tech platforms be able to submit priority complaints directly to their national regulators. 
  • Code of Practice Joint Call. The Commission has come out with its official call for interest to join the Code of Practice on Disinformation. This call follows the Guidance released in June on strengthening the existing Code. 
  • European Digital Media Observatory. The fact-checking network of EDMO, the European Digital Media Observatory, released their first fact-checking report covering disinformation in the EU during the month of June.

From the EU DisinfoLab

Alexandre Alaphilippe speaks with the CyberPeace Institute

The CyberPeace Institute spoke with EU DisinfoLab executive director Alexandre Alaphilippe about the cyberattack by which we were recently targeted in May, along with 149 other NGOs worldwide, which has since been attributed by Microsoft to Nobelium. Alexandre describes the security culture we have developed due to the nature of our work, and how other civil society actors can learn from our experience.

Antagonising fact-checkers: the misappropriation of fact-checking to polarise the Spanish informational landscape

EU DisinfoLab’s analysis on “antagonising fact-checkers” looks at entities that mimic two established Spanish fact-checkers. While claiming to engage in content verification, these initiatives fail to conform to the methodological principles expected from fact-checkers and the identities of the actors behind them are unknown. Their misleading strategies include mimicking the logos, visuals, and structures of the established fact-checkers to confuse audiences. Meanwhile they regularly produce information which is decontextualised, and presented in ambiguous and misleading ways. 

Read the full analysis here and a Twitter thread here.

Research, Resources, Long Reads…

  • In a report for the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center, Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer describes the role of “Information Defense”, outlining the “three stages of awareness” of foreign information manipulation, and offering an overview of policy measures taken against such interference.
  • A report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) examines the online communities through which anti-refugee disinformation spread during 2020, including the narratives and actors amplifying these narratives – a topic recently discussed in the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Foreign Interference (INGE). Euractiv has a synthesis.
  • Domen Savič of Citizen D published an e-paper for Heinrich Böll Stiftung on disinformation in Slovenia, specifically the systemic failures to curb the funding of hateful content and mis/disinfo with the public money of Slovenian taxpayers.
  • Check out the latest resources from the OSINT Curious Project, a project providing news, blog posts, instructional videos, and live streams about how to conduct online open source intelligence.

Events and Announcements

  • Online Advertising, Commission Call for Tenders: The European Commission is calling for tenders for a study providing evidence and analysis on the online advertising industry to inform future policy options for the online advertising sector. The call is open until September 6.
  • August 9 – 20: Tactical Tech is holding a two-week online Summer School on “Investigating the Influence Industry”. Apply here before July 30.
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • Stiftung Neue Verantwortung (SNV) is hiring for two part-time positions: a social media editor and a communications/graphic designer.
  • GDI has an opening for a six-month consultancy focused on disinformation policy in the EU and UK.
  • Access Now has several open positions in policy, grant writing, and digital safety.
  • The DFRLab is looking for students or recent graduates to join the team as part of the Atlantic Council’s Young Global Professionals Internship Program
  • The Council on Foreing Relations is looking for a Research Associate, Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program.