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Disinformation self-proclaimed experts: Spreading COVID-19 disinformation under the guise of expertise

By Maria Giovanna Sessa, Senior Researcher at EU DisinfoLab Executive summary As the perception of expertise has now become a question of credibility over competence, the research identifies a three-fold typology of actors who, being publicly recognised as experts despite their lack of knowledge on COVID-19, consistently transmitted disinformation in Italy during the first year of the pandemic.  These disinformation self-proclaimed experts consist of politicians (74% from populist parties and 54% alone from one single party – the League); disinformation super-spreaders; and ‘traditional’ or ‘deviated’ medical professionals, who gained notoriety during the pandemic.  Data is drawn from the qualitative text analysis of 1,168 pieces of disinformation on COVID-19 debunked by fact-checkers, collected in Italy throughout 2020.

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By Maria Giovanna Sessa, Senior Researcher at EU DisinfoLab Executive summary As the perception of expertise has now become a question of credibility over competence, the research identifies a three-fold typology of actors who, being publicly recognised as experts despite their lack of knowledge on COVID-19, consistently transmitted disinformation in Italy during the first year of the pandemic.  These disinformation self-proclaimed experts consist of politicians (74% from populist parties and 54% alone from one single party – the League); disinformation super-spreaders; and ‘traditional’ or ‘deviated’ medical professionals, who gained notoriety during the pandemic.  Data is drawn from the qualitative text analysis of 1,168 pieces of disinformation on COVID-19 debunked by fact-checkers, collected in Italy throughout 2020.
Disinformation experts need effective complaint and redress mechanisms. How else will we be heard when social media platforms make mistakes?
By Roman Adamczyk, EU DisinfoLab Research Coordinator Disinformation is often perceived as a complex topic where malicious actors, mostly linked to states, use sophisticated techniques to spread misleading or false content to large audiences.
By Ana Romero-Vicente, EU DisinfoLab Researcher Introduction Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube have all taken additional steps to crack down on Covid-19 falsehoods, although it is proven that they are not always effective, and their AI detection system fails to remove most of the problematic content.
By Maria Giovanna Sessa, Research Coordinator at EU DisinfoLab The research focuses on the targets of COVID-19 disinformation during the pandemic in Italy between the start of 2020 and mid-2021.
Acknowledgments: The EU DisinfoLab would like to thank the co-facilitators of this session, the participants, and the RightsCon organisers. This piece is a summary of the discussion without attribution, as the session was conducted under Chatham House Rules to protect the identity of the participants.
m the meddling of the Russian Intelligence Research Agency (IRA) in the 2016 US elections to a hack and leak operation targeting Emmanuel Macron, whose design and timing showed a determination to disrupt the election, several spectacular attempts at electoral interference have made the headlines in recent years.
Quality journalism and honest reporting bring crucial facts to the public. But, in numerous cases, “media” (whether self-depicted or registered) have played a role in producing and distributing disinformation campaigns.
by Nicolas Tenzer. This op-ed from Nicolas Tenzer is a translation, slightly adapted and referenced, of an op-ed published on 17 September 2021 in French by the newspaper Le Monde and on Mr Tenzer’s website.
We are delighted to announce that Camille François, global expert on disinformation, has been appointed Member of the EU DisinfoLab Board of Directors on 30th June 2021.