Diluting disinformation: ‘no quick fixes’


A new EU fake news initiative will recommend engaging with social media companies to agree and enforce a new code of practice on fake news or disinformation, reports suggest:

The cross-border nature of the challenges – which, the report says, are a threat to democracy, erode trust in institutions, and pose a threat to freedom of information and media plurality – makes action crucial at European level.

“There are no quick fixes” but “inaction is not an option,” says the report. The commission promises to immediately convene “a multi-stakeholder forum” on disinformation to provide a framework for co-operation involving, among others, online platforms and advertisers to draft a code of conduct whose implementation will be monitored by the commission and those stakeholders.

A New York Times’ report on Sri Lanka this weekend described how Facebook’s News Feed and Groups can warp social discourse with disinformation as the match in a tinderbox democracy, Nieman Lab’s Christine Schmidt adds.

RT is a disgrace. But banning it would be a mistake, argues Edward Lucas, a Senior Vice President at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). That does not mean we should do nothing, he writes:

  • For a start, we can starve RT of contributors. No elected representative, official, pundit, journalist, author, or academic with a shred of self-respect should accept invitations to appear on this channel. …
  • Second, we can encourage people not to work there. A stint at RT is not the beginning of a career in broadcasting. It is an ignominious end to it. We should also encourage the many insiders who are thinking of defecting from RT’s ranks. Their insights about how the Kremlin propaganda machine works would be useful. We could also discourage reputable advertisers from buying slots on RT’s website and broadcasts.


The story of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (left) shows that there is more than one way for democracy to fail, notes Anne Applebaum, a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy. The independent institutions that enforce the law, control criminality and prevent corrosive corruption can be weakened, openly and dramatically, from above, as they are in Hungary, she writes for the Washington Post:

But they can also be weakened from below. If independent legal institutions are deprived of resources and understaffed, if journalists who report on crimes are ignored, if the public is indifferent — these, too, are sure paths toward democratic failure. And such things can happen slowly, quietly, almost imperceptibly — at least until a crisis, or a bomb explosion, reveals that its citizens are living in a country they no longer recognize.

The @DFRLab is taking its 360/OS open source summit to Berlin on June 22 and June 23:

The 360/OS open source summit is an experience that will bring together journalists, activists, innovators, and leaders from around the world as part of our digital solidarity movement for objective facts and realitya cornerstone of democracy. Over two days of interactive sessions and hands-on trainings, participants will discover the latest techniques in open source, social media analysis, emerging technology, and digital forensic research, to forge digital resilience and defend the integrity of our democratic societies.

If you are interested in joining 360/OS register here. For more information click here.

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