Disinformation in the name of the ‘fight against disinformation’ - The case of ‘EU DisinfoLab’

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[...] We therefore decided to conduct a research on this organisation, which is developed in the second section of this policy brief. Created in December 2017, EU DisinfoLab gained full notoriety soon afterwards when it managed to convince French media and French authorities that an internal political scandal was being propagated by a ‘Russian conspiracy’. To our knowledge, this was the most obvious and almost successful contemporary disinformation manoeuvre in the democratic world. Although an independent study rapidly managed to debunk ‘EU DisinfoLab’s Russian conspiracy theory, and although some among the independent press and various observers clearly denounced the manipulation, the fact is that the organisation continued its activities and – as is the present case – even managed considerable success in its disinformation strategies. We proceed, in the subsequent section, to analyse the context of EU DisinfoLab’. We discovered it was part of a sprawl of ‘disinfolabs’ simultaneously emerging in 2017/2018, originally financed by technology companies. Whereas other, partnering organisations lack a style of aggressive and insulting disinformation comparable to that adopted by EU DisinfoLab, we found the logic of their actions debatable, as they seemed to believe that being sponsored by the biggest players in the information industry provides them with the authority to become some sort of information police. We analyse the ‘Information disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policy making’ and we see therein an attempt to transform into the doctrine of the democratic world a framework for suppressing pluralism and freedom of expression – increasing the power and influence of the information industry’s major players and deviating the State from its crucial role of insuring a level playing field for information providers. Modern disinformation strategies are yet more formidable and dangerous than those classic. They strive in autocratic states; yet are also able to permeate democratic societies lacking the capacity to control their influence and facing a perilous concentration of power on information providers. Whereas polarisation is inherent to democratic societies, modern disinformation strategies promote toxic polarisation, transforming activism into malevolent despotism. [...]

Document type: Working paper
Publisher: South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF)
Place of Publication: Brussels
Date: 2021
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2021
Number of Pages: 40
Faculties / Institutes: Miscellaneous > Individual person
DDC-classification: News media, journalism, publishing
Political science
Controlled Keywords: Europa, Desinformation, Falschmeldung, Demokratie, Gesellschaft, Meinungsfreiheit, Regulierung
Uncontrolled Keywords: Europa, Desinformation, Falschmeldung, Demokratie, Gesellschaft, Meinungsfreiheit, Regulierung / Europe, disinformation, false news, democracy, society, freedom of expression, regulation
Subject (classification): Media
Countries/Regions: other countries
Series: Themen > SADF Policy Brief
Volume: 11
Additional Information: DOI: 10.48251/SADF.ISSN.2406-5625.PB.11 (DOI der Erstausgabe)