The executive director of the EU DisinfoLab, Alexandre Alaphilippe, points out that the Russian aggression in Ukraine has given rise to a new level of disinformation actors on the European continent.
Alaphilippe in an interview for The Geopost says that this has particularly affected the Balkan countries.
“I think the invasion of Ukraine by Russia starting in February has given rise to a whole new level of disinformation actors playing in Europe, including the Balkans in recent months, I think that’s pretty clear to everyone,” said Alaphilippe.
According to him, in order to face this, there must be fact check and investigative journalism.
“This goes from fact-checking, to research, to investigative journalism, and to putting responsibility on the people and on the factors that are helping disinformation grow and spread, and that’s the most pressing challenge we have right now in Europe,” he says.
He adds that the EU DisinfoLab is identifying actors who spread disinformation, as he calls threats to democracy.
“Many of the actors we see are repeat disseminators, so we need to be better at sanctioning the bad actors who are doing this to our democracies,” Alaphilippe adds.
Finally, in this interview, he also spoke about the continuous work that journalists must do to fight the phenomenon of fake news and propaganda.
The Geopost: What are the biggest challenges of disinformation, especially after the Russian aggression in Ukraine?
I think that new invasion of Ukraine that started in February has triggered a whole new level of disinformation actors playing in Europe, including the Balkans in the past months, I think that’s quite clear for everybody. I think that the challenge now for everybody is to make sure that we have a resilience in society that is build, that is sustained and that is funded to actually work on countering disinformation.
And that goes from fact checking, to research, investigative journalism, and to put accountability on the people and on the factors that are helping disinformation to grow and to spread, and that’s the most pressing challenge that we have right now in Europe.
The Geopost: What is EU DisinfoLab doing to fight disinformation coming from Russia?
At EUDisinfolab, we are doing research and we publish investigations showing for instance how Russian base actors have impersonated media in Ukraine but also in western Europe to disguise as authentic media and to disguise renowned brands of authentic media, and we uncovered this recently and that was very long campaign that Russia based actor has done on that.
So, part of the work is to expose these and to reveal this to the public, because that is part of the public interest. Now, the other part of the work is to make sure that there are consequences for these actors, that the actors that are setting up these disinformation websites, disinformation campaigns, at some points are sanctioned, and we make sure they do not have a capacity to act again or to re-spread disinformation. Lot of the actors that we see are repeated spreaders of disinformation, so we need to be better at sanctioning bad actors that are doing this to our democracies.
The Geopost: Message for the Balkan states and journalists, how to be prepared for these new phenomena called disinformation?
I’m not sure it is a new phenomenon; I think it’s an updated phenomenon, but I think the most important is to keep doing the work of revealing, investigating, researching for the public interest, and that is something we all need to do, because we are a civil society as a community, we are on the frontline on this and this is very important that we keep doing our job and we also need to have and to request more protection for journalist victims of harassment, we see death threats happening more and more in Europe, we actually need to put an end to that so we can all work in a safe environment to actually continue this fight. /The Geopost/