The US election call was a wake up call for the European Parliament on disinformation and its harmful effects.
A panel discussing disinformation and defending democrary heard that the current mode of self-regulation on the internet is inadequate.In the coming months, the EP will be working on proposals which aim to improve media and protect freedom of speech.
The European Parliament stated that distrust of institutions and false narratives are gaining ground. Even extreme conspiracy theories like QAnon have gained a following in Europe. Multiple conspiracy theories – playing into fears about perceived elites and about COVID-19 – can have a powerful compound effect to erode trust in the establishment and the lines between fact and fiction, especially at a time of economic and societal fragility. “Democratic narratives in our communications are more important than ever,” the European Parliament stated.
The seminar came hot on the heels of a USA National Intelligence Council on the 2020 presidential election. In the report, the director of National Intelligence sought to provide a clear picture of the synergies between foreign and domestic disinformation, which undermined public confidence in the electoral process and exacerbated socio-political divisions.
The key judgements of the USA National Intelligence Council show that there was indication of any foreign actor attempt to alter any technical aspect of the voting process (voter registration, vote tabulation, reporting results). This is despite actors spreading false or inflated claims about alleged compromises of voting systems. This was done to undermine public confidence in the electoral process and results.
The report also foudn that Russian Federation authorised influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process and exacerbating socio-political divisions in the US. Unlike the 2016 election, there was no Russian Federation persistent cyber efforts to access election infrastructure.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.