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Strategic communications as a key factor in countering hybrid threats

10-03-2021

This report describes the key features, technologies and processes of strategic communications to counter hybrid threats and their components. The theoretical description of hybrid threats is complemented by the analysis of diverse case studies, describing the geopolitical context in which the hybrid threat took place, its main features, the mechanisms related to strategic communications used by the victim to counter the hybrid threat and its impact and consequences. A comprehensive set of policy ...

This report describes the key features, technologies and processes of strategic communications to counter hybrid threats and their components. The theoretical description of hybrid threats is complemented by the analysis of diverse case studies, describing the geopolitical context in which the hybrid threat took place, its main features, the mechanisms related to strategic communications used by the victim to counter the hybrid threat and its impact and consequences. A comprehensive set of policy options aimed at improving the EU response to hybrid threats is also provided.

Autor externo

DG, EPRS_This study has been written by Juan Pablo Villar García, Carlota Tarín Quirós and Julio Blázquez Soria of Iclaves S.L., Carlos Galán Pascual of the University Carlos III of Madrid, and Carlos Galán Cordero of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya at the request of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and managed by the Scientific Foresight Unit, within the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) of the Secretariat of the European Parliament.

Mapping Fake News and Disinformation in the Western Balkans and Identifying Ways to Effectively Counter Them

23-02-2021

Disinformation is an endemic and ubiquitous part of politics throughout the Western Balkans, without exception. A mapping of the disinformation and counter-disinformation landscapes in the region in the period from 2018 through 2020 reveals three key disinformation challenges: external challenges to EU credibility; disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and the impact of disinformation on elections and referenda. While foreign actors feature prominently – chiefly Russia, but also China, ...

Disinformation is an endemic and ubiquitous part of politics throughout the Western Balkans, without exception. A mapping of the disinformation and counter-disinformation landscapes in the region in the period from 2018 through 2020 reveals three key disinformation challenges: external challenges to EU credibility; disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and the impact of disinformation on elections and referenda. While foreign actors feature prominently – chiefly Russia, but also China, Turkey, and other countries in and near the region – the bulk of disinformation in the Western Balkans is produced and disseminated by domestic actors for domestic purposes. Further, disinformation (and information disorder more broadly) is a symptom of social and political disorder, rather than the cause. As a result, the European Union should focus on the role that it can play in bolstering the quality of democracy and governance in the Western Balkans, as the most powerful potential bulwark against disinformation.

Autor externo

Samuel GREENE, Gregory ASMOLOV, Adam FAGAN, Ofer FRIDMAN, Borjan GJUZELOV

Trump's disinformation 'magaphone': Consequences, first lessons and outlook

02-02-2021

The deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 was a significant cautionary example of the offline effects of online disinformation and conspiracy theories. The historic democratic crisis this has sparked − adding to a number of other historic crises the US is currently battling − provides valuable lessons not only for the United States, but also for Europe and the democratic world. The US presidential election and its aftermath saw domestic disinformation emerging as a more visible ...

The deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 was a significant cautionary example of the offline effects of online disinformation and conspiracy theories. The historic democratic crisis this has sparked − adding to a number of other historic crises the US is currently battling − provides valuable lessons not only for the United States, but also for Europe and the democratic world. The US presidential election and its aftermath saw domestic disinformation emerging as a more visible immediate threat than disinformation by third countries. While political violence has been the most tangible physical effect of manipulative information, corrosive conspiracy theories have moved from the fringes to the heart of political debate, normalising extremist rhetoric. At the same time, recent developments have confirmed that the lines between domestic and foreign attempts to undermine democracy are increasingly blurred. While the perceived weaknesses in democratic systems are − unsurprisingly − celebrated as a victory for authoritarian state actors, links between foreign interference and domestic terrorism are under growing scrutiny. The question of how to depolarise US society − one of a long list of challenges facing the Biden Administration − is tied to the polarised media environment. The crackdown by major social media platforms on Donald Trump and his supporters has prompted far-right groups to abandon the established information ecosystem to join right-wing social media. This could further accelerate the ongoing fragmentation of the US infosphere, cementing the trend towards separate realities. Ahead of the proposed Democracy Summit − a key objective of the Biden Administration − tempering the 'sword of democracy' has risen to the top of the agenda on both sides of the Atlantic. Against this backdrop, and in line with the EU-US Agenda for Global Change, EU initiatives to counter disinformation − including the recent democracy action plan and the Digital Services Act − may provide a basis for EU-US cooperation on boosting democracy at home and abroad.

What future for democracy?

11-12-2020

A panel at the 2020 ESPAS conference discussed the future of democracy in the light of the coronavirus pandemic. Participatory democracy was seen as a potential remedy for polarisation, while digitisation brings a need for careful governance. Misinformation and disinformation needs to be addressed through education. A poll of attendees identified tax equity as a key innovation for successfully rebuilding democracy.

A panel at the 2020 ESPAS conference discussed the future of democracy in the light of the coronavirus pandemic. Participatory democracy was seen as a potential remedy for polarisation, while digitisation brings a need for careful governance. Misinformation and disinformation needs to be addressed through education. A poll of attendees identified tax equity as a key innovation for successfully rebuilding democracy.

Strengthening media freedom in the EU

19-11-2020

The EU is actively engaged in protecting the independence and safety of journalists as crucial components of the proper democratic functioning of its institutions and Member States. Media freedom, however, has been deteriorating in recent years. Threats, harassment, public shaming and even assassinations of media actors are on the rise. At its November II plenary session, the European Parliament is due to vote on an own-initiative report concerned with strengthening media freedom. The report emphasises ...

The EU is actively engaged in protecting the independence and safety of journalists as crucial components of the proper democratic functioning of its institutions and Member States. Media freedom, however, has been deteriorating in recent years. Threats, harassment, public shaming and even assassinations of media actors are on the rise. At its November II plenary session, the European Parliament is due to vote on an own-initiative report concerned with strengthening media freedom. The report emphasises that combating media capture, hate speech and misinformation is fundamental when it comes to defending the rule of law and democracy in the EU.

Coronavirus in the 'Disunited States of America'

30-10-2020

The potential of the ongoing pandemic to accelerate already existing or underlying trends has become particularly visible ahead of the Presidential election in the United States. The coronavirus crisis has boosted environmental factors that can increase radicalisation, while at the same time intensifying the spread of conspiracy theories that can have a similar effect. The accelerated 'truth decay' and the partisan polarisation of the debate about the handling of the continued surge in Covid 19 cases ...

The potential of the ongoing pandemic to accelerate already existing or underlying trends has become particularly visible ahead of the Presidential election in the United States. The coronavirus crisis has boosted environmental factors that can increase radicalisation, while at the same time intensifying the spread of conspiracy theories that can have a similar effect. The accelerated 'truth decay' and the partisan polarisation of the debate about the handling of the continued surge in Covid 19 cases and deaths will likely further undermine trust in institutions, while accelerated societal anxiety could increase the potential for post-election tension.