Disinformation - Pollution of Digital Age

      Disinformation - Pollution of Digital Age

      Think Tank ISE Group unveils research on Fighting Russian Disinformation in Europe

      - Berlin - March 14, 2024 –

      The ISE Group, European think tank, in collaboration with the European House Berlin, Viola von Cramon of the European Parliament, and Nataliya Pryhornytska from Open Platform e.V. / Alliance Ukrainian Organizations, hosted a pivotal roundtable discussion titled "Disinformation Pollution: Facing Future Challenges"

      This event, centered on the presentation of ISE Group's latest research findings on Russian disinformation campaigns targeting EU countries, specifically Germany, France, Austria, and Poland, brought together a diverse group of experts to address the urgent issue of disinformation in today's digital era.

      Introduction

      The ISE Group, dedicated to innovation and addressing societal challenges, has conducted this critical research to expose the complex nature of Russian disinformation. The urgency of this research is amplified by the current geopolitical climate, where truth and democratic values are under siege by orchestrated misinformation efforts.

      The research aimed to:

      1. Uncover the main objectives of Russian propaganda in the selected countries.

      2. Analyze the narratives and methods used to disseminate these narratives.

      3. Highlight practical cases of disinformation spread, including the exploitation of digital platforms.

      The study reveals that Russian disinformation campaigns are not only multifaceted but also tailored to the specific political and social landscapes of each country, with the overarching goals of undermining support for Ukraine, lifting sanctions against Russia, and creating divisions within the EU.

      Key Findings

      Objectives of Russian Propaganda: The primary tasks of Russian disinformation in the selected countries include advocating for the lifting of sanctions against Russia, undermining support for Ukraine, and sowing divisions within EU member states.

      Disinformation Strategies: Russia employs a sophisticated infrastructure, including state media, social media bots, and unofficial channels, to disseminate false narratives. Notably, the budget for these activities has increased, highlighting the strategic importance Russia places on disinformation as a tool for geopolitical influence.

      Country-Specific Challenges:

      Germany: Russian disinformation targets specific events to pressure Berlin, exploiting mainstream media as a platform for manipulation. Over 25% of political parties are pro-Russian supporters. The estimated Russian diaspora, up to 6 million people, is susceptible to pro-Russian propaganda. More than 4 billion euros in frozen Russian assets are in Germany.

      France: Over 40% of politicians support Russia. The "Doppelgänger" operation highlights the significant impact of disinformation campaigns on public opinion and policy.

      Austria: Far-right parties spread Russian narratives, exploiting Austria's neutrality and economic ties with Russia. Around 30% of three revisionist pro-Russia parties hold sway. Approximately 2 billion euros in Russian assets are frozen.

      Poland: Economic concerns and anti-Ukrainian sentiment are exploited to portray Poland as a victim of EU policies, and Ukrainian refugees are depicted as a threat. Poles are among the most aware of Russian disinformation, exhibiting the highest resistance to such tactics in the EU, and have a clear understanding of Russian motives.

      Implications and Recommendations

      The research underscores the critical need for enhanced oversight of online platforms, investment in content verification technologies, understanding the socio-economic impacts of disinformation, promotion of media literacy, and cooperation among EU institutions and member states. Implementing these recommendations will strengthen the EU's resilience against disinformation campaigns.

      Expert Commentary

      “The study covers cases from 2023 till now and shows how the wave of disinformation has tripled in Europe. Thus, it is necessary to employ even more severe policies and steps in order to combat growing waves of disinformation. This study serves as a crucial resource for policymakers, researchers, and the public in addressing the challenges posed by state-sponsored disinformation," stated Elena Malitskaya, Executive Director of ISE Group.

      Viola von Cramon of the European Parliament: "Putin's hybrid warfare is no less dangerous than his other weapons. Russia is using disinformation to undermine our democracy. Facts and informed citizens are the best antidote to Russian disinformation”

      Alexander Romanishyn, former Deputy Ministry of Economy of Ukraine: “Disinformation is the pollution of digital society, much like carbon emissions were the pollution of industrial society. I see we are now at the beginning of addressing digital pollution. My main suggestion for dealing with digital pollution is to leverage the experiences and approaches used to minimize carbon emissions, such as implementing disinformation taxes (similar to carbon taxes), setting targets, and establishing standards, making global collaboration between countries, etc.”

      Nataliya Pryhornytsk, Alliance Ukrainian Organizations: "In the short term, disinformation is the greatest global threat to democratic societies and can only be countered with a systematic, holistic approach, in close cooperation and a strong network."

      Conclusion

      The ISE Group's research provides a detailed examination of Russian disinformation in Europe, offering actionable insights and recommendations to mitigate its effects. It underscores the importance of a coordinated European response to protect democratic processes and societal values from the corrosive effects of disinformation.

      To get access to the full report please use this link https://ise-group.org/disinformation or click on download

      For further information, please contact info@ise-group.org

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      ISE Group is a Think Tank and Ecosystem Builder in Europe with offices in Warsaw and Kyiv, focusing on the Digital Economy, Digital Democracy, Innovation, and Policy Making.