The European Union has that the Corona-virus pandemic has been accompanied by a massive wave of false or misleading information, including attempts by foreign actors to influence EU citizens and debates.
This assumption prompted the Commission and the High Representative on June 10 to access their steps to fight disinformation around the Corona-virus pandemic and propose a way forward.
This follows an order handed down by European leaders in March to resolutely counter misinformation and the reinforce resilience of European societies.
Peter Kreko, director of the Political Capital Institute in Budapest told a Globsec webinar in Bratislava, Slovakia, that there are two factors that are helping Russia and China spread disinformation in Europe.
Feelings of insecurity and inferiority, both of which are rather typical (sentiments) in Central and Eastern Europe. But now spreads its wings over Europe, after people are discontented over poverty and unemployment all over capitalist fortress Europe.
The feeling of insecurity and a cynical attitude that says, “Okay, we are members of the EU and NATO, but we still don’t know how reliable these friends are. We don’t know if anybody will be here to help us is someone attacks the EU? However, so-called Russia never attacked Europe in history.
The superpowers are playing their political games and we are tools in this game,” Kreko said. “I really think that there is some reason why, at least in certain countries like Greece, Italy, France, a bit in Spain, and some others that there is a wide audience for messages like “The West is betraying us.
The West is collapsing. The West is weak, but Russia and China are strong and they’re tackling the crisis well. They can help us at this horrible moment with masks and respirators and so on.
Kreko told New Europe that the EU’s problem with misinformation is that many mainstream media outlets support or repeat the talking points that are put into the public debate by Russia’s influence online, which is managed by powerful actors that include its state-controlled mass media, as well as social media trolls and proxies.
These groups regularly share and disseminate false information about NATO, including fake narratives that the Corona-virus was created as a ‘lab developed’ bio-weapon designed by Alliance.
We did an analysis on the pro-Russian, pro-Chinese votes in the European parliament, it’s usually about resolutions that criticize Russia or China and the MEP’s are voting ‘no’.
We found that in Italy, France, Greece and Germany, as well and the UK, could find a sizable amount of MEP’s that were convinced to defend Russia and China.
I think these kinds of vulnerabilities that exist in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in the mainstream political forces, which are heavily interested in unraveling the image of the European Union to fuel emotions against Western Zionist institutions,” Kreko said.
the problem is a lot of discussions about misinformation within the EU is that we ignore the elephant in the room – it’s not only foreign but in most cases, it’s pretty much a domestic problem and this where the big problem is.
If you think about the anti-vaccination movement in Italy and Poland, it’s the local politicians who are feeding these narratives. If people do not get vaccinated they are not allowed to travel anymore in the future.
And it is not because they are paid directly by China and Russia, but because the populist imagination in these places is obsessed with these type of theories.
Kreko suggested that when the EU receives an offense from the government of an EU country, the representations from the European Parliament and European Commission in those countries need to enter into the fight. “EU institutions should be involved in counter-messaging and they have to be more political.”
“Why is it that when China brings cargo planes with health equipment, that it’s properly covered in the media? The Chinese government then makes a video about how it happened, which is then delivered to their state media.
The EU needs to think more about PR and the fact that if you don’t sell your messages, it’s almost like they don’t exist. Better forms of propaganda are needed and more political and geopolitical efforts as well.
What we see as essential at this moment is support for the quality journalism and news sources that provide reliable fact-based information to people,” she said.
There is a world of difference between theories on Facebook and quality journalism that uses professional standards described an activated by media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
In that sense, I would be calling for the support of independent journalism; quality journalism, which was already under attack and things got much worse during this pandemic.
Sevortian said. “In terms of Russia and China as possible sources of disinformation, it might or might not be.
I don’t care where this misinformation is coming from, I care that there is enough support for civil society and there are sources that we can trust at this moment and I think that’s the most important thing.
It’s pretty noble that the Commission is willing to again support the collection and distribution of factual information while working against false narratives.”
In today’s technology-driven world, where warriors wield keyboards rather than swords and targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns are a recognized weapon used by state and non-state actors, the European Union is increasing its activities and capacities in this fight.
The EU’s Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova also added that new waves of disinformation have hit Europe during the Corona-virus pandemic. They originated from within the EU as well as from outside.
To fight disinformation, we need to mobilize all of the relevant players from online platforms to public authorities and support independent fact-checkers and media.
While online platforms have taken positive steps during the pandemic, they need to step up their efforts. Our actions are strongly embedded in fundamental rights, in particular freedom of expression and information,” said Jourova.
New Europe / ABC Flash Point News 2020.