Europe Addresses Russian Media Spreading Disinformation

There is increasing evidence that Russia is automating disinformation on social media and the West is failing to get control of Russian hacking and fake news distribution. The Russian tactics have been described as ”very systematic and a new way to spread propaganda among young people.” The concern is not just that Russian media outlets spread disinformation, It is also the automated algorithms, known as bots, that help false reports go viral much faster than politicians or fact-checkers can debunk them.

If you have hacking, fake news with a purpose, it is very difficult to react. We can find out what happened, but it is very difficult to prove. The whole law in this area needs addressing. – Edgars Rinkēvičs, Latvian Foreign Minister

Speaking on a visit to London, Latvian Foreign Minister brought attention to new NATO-sponsored research showing more than five times the number of Russian language tweets sent in Latvia concerning NATO came from bot accounts, instead of from individuals. The figure in Estonia was nine times as many.

In answer to the growing concern over fake news, German parliament passed a law at the end of June 2017 that will impose fines worth upwards of $50 million on Facebook, Google, and other social media companies that do not promptly remove what they deem to be “illegal content.” The European Union has also created an office devoted to debunking fake news, fake comments, fake reviews, and Russian propaganda. The Czech Republic has set up a police agency to monitor social media for disinformation and other “hybrid threats.”

Mr. Rinkēvičs urged U.S. Congress to press ahead with its inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. He believes that it is essential for all U.S allies to understand the mechanics of how to organize a cyber attack and then use it as an information weapon to influence people’s opinions.