EDMO Task Force on Disinformation on the War in Ukraine

Edmo Task Force on Disinformation on the War in Ukraine

Why was the EDMO Task Force on disinformation on the war in Ukraine created?

The current war in Ukraine shows that disinformation is playing an active role both in the conflict and in the right of citizens to access information. Be the incentives political, financial or societal, the spread of disinformation on the war is impacting society and decision makers and producing an information disorder around the conflict.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already shown that disinformation has reached crisis proportions and, among other things, has created the background against which the current information war, and the amount of disinformation circulating in the European Union, can be waged more effectively against a much more fragile global public opinion. Moreover, the dominant disinformation narratives, patterns and techniques show that disinformation seeks to disrupt international peace and the rules-based order, public health, democratic processes and institutions all at the same time. Disinformation is a systemic problem, that requires systemic solutions involving collective responsibility both within and across nations.

We expect the current information war to be a long-term one rather than a blietzkrig, seeking to create information fatigue, to muddy conversations and to blur the distinctions between what is real and what is not. This is why, we consider that, while major improvements in terms of resilience cannot be expected under crisis situations, the EDMO Task Force can contribute to keeping the focus of policy- and decision-makers, public and private stakeholders and the public at large and thus avoiding the trap of information, debunking and fact-checking fatigue.

What is the general objective of the EDMO Task Force?

The EDMO task force has a strong academic/ research focus, yet the objective is to provide actionable insights, that are relevant for policy- and decision-makers, for public and private stakeholders and for the public at large. These insights are the basis for encouraging awareness and meaningful public conversations about a phenomenon which poses a threat to the health of the information ecosystem in a liberal democracy and thus democratic life.

What differentiates the EDMO Task Force?

  • The EDMO Task Force is not in competition with other endeavours, but complementary to them; it seeks to create synergies and to contribute to systemic interventions.
  • It primarily focuses on disinformation within and across EU member states; expansion of the geographical scope will be evaluated taking into account that, more often than not, disinformation crosses borders, including the digital ones.
  • It is evidence-based, especially in terms of seeking hard evidence of circulation/ engagement/ amplification mechanism/ monetization, coordinated behaviour on platforms and across platforms, both inauthentic and authentic;
  • It is not politicised;
  • It carries out research across platforms;
  • It relies on independent professional fact-checkers, whose work adheres to ethics standards;
  • Task Force members participate on a voluntary basis.

What are the fields of action of the EDMO Task Force?

The EDMO Task Force on disinformation on the war in Ukraine is independent. It focuses on disinformation that emerges from all sources, with the aim of providing necessary context to actors, narratives, formats and intended audiences.

The Task Force has identified key complementary and cumulative fields of action that are needed to understand the actors, trends and patterns of disinformation on the war in Ukraine and to build societal resilience.

  1. Independent fact-checking
  2. Independent research and access to relevant data
  3. Media and information literacy initiatives

It is only by having sound evidence within these three fields, that the phenomenon can be really understood and tackled.

Independent fact-checking is intercepting and debunking disinformation; independent, evidence-based research identifies the actors, techniques and trends of detected disinformation; media and information literacy initiatives provide society and citizens with tools to navigate the information sphere more safely.

Actions in all three areas are of key importance. It is only by acting cumulatively on the three fields that we can have a full understanding of the phenomenon, which can serve as a basis for evidence-based decision-making processes by public and private actors.

How is the work of the EDMO Task Force organised?

In order to cope with the urgency of the topic, the Task Force is divided into working groups that reflect the three above-mentioned fields of action.

The three working groups collate and highlight the work already being done on disinformation, as well as conduct original research and analysis. When content is already available it will be collected/connected and gaps will be identified, which in turn will nudge the creation of new content to be collected.

The Task Force counts on the collaboration of the EDMO Hubs and of the Small Scale Online Media Projects.

Specific activities:

  1. Independent fact-checking 
    1. Collection of fact-checking articles produced by fact-checkers in the EDMO network
    2. Weekly briefs summarising main narratives and instances of disinformation
    3. Statements on specific topics that can be useful for stakeholders and for public awareness
  2. Independent research and access to relevant data 
    1. Collection of relevant existing research with a multidisciplinary approach
    2. Identification of datasets needed for research purposes
    3. Correspondence with online platforms to request access to relevant datasets and follow-up dialogue
    4. Identification of a pool of independent researchers to conduct relevant research
  3. Media and information literacy initiatives 
    1. Collection of the media and information literacy initiatives at MS level
    2. Publicity of best practice examples

Composition

  • Chair: Claire Wardle | Brown University and FirstDraft
  • Alexandre Alaphilippe | EU Disinfo Lab
  • Alina Bargaoanu | National University of Political Studies and Public Administration of Romania
  • Anja Bechmann | Aarhus University
  • Kalina Bontcheva | University of Sheffield
  • Tommaso Canetta | Pagella Politica
  • Dominika Hajdu | GlobSec
  • Carlos Hernández-Echevarría | Maldita.es
  • Roman Imielski | Gazeta Wyborcza
  • Rasmus Kleis Nielsen | Reuters Institute – Oxford University
  • Sonia Livingstone | London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Gianni Riotta | Luiss University
  • Grzegorz Rzeczkowski | Polityka
  • Renate Schroeder | European Federation of Journalists
  • Jochen Spangenberg | Deutsche Welle
  • Paweł Terpilowski | Demagog PL
  • Rebekah Tromble | George Washington University
  • Richard Woods |Global Disinformation Index

Statement on Mental well-being of investigators on the digital frontline

Statement about Cybersecurity

Statement on Russian propaganda disguising as fact-checking

Establishment of the EDMO taskforce on disinformation on the war in Ukraine

Request to access data for research purposes – by the EDMO Task Force on disinformation on the war in Ukraine

A pro-Russian bot network in the EU amplifies disinformation about the war in Ukraine