Vad menar kommissionen med desinformation?

Vår tyske EU-parlamentariker Patrick Breyer har ställt en skriftlig fråga till EU-kommissionen i syfte att förtydliga deras syn på desinformation. Kontexten är projektet EUvsDisinfo, vars syfte enligt deras ”About”-sektion är:

EUvsDisinfo is the flagship project of the European External Action Service’s East StratCom Task Force(opens in a new tab). It was established in 2015 to better forecast, address, and respond to the Russian Federation’s ongoing disinformation campaigns affecting the European Union, its Member States, and countries in the shared neighbourhood.

EUvsDisinfo’s core objective is to increase public awareness and understanding of the Kremlin’s disinformation operations, and to help citizens in Europe and beyond develop resistance to digital information and media manipulation.

Breyer ifrågasätter att EUvsDisinfo har en bredare definition av desinformation, vilken inkluderar bland annat viss spekulation eller partisk journalistik, än vad EU-kommissionen antagit i sin kommunikation gällande desinformation. Kommissionens svar på Breyers fråga är tyvärr ett fullständigt icke-svar.

Patrick Breyer tillsammans med vår partiledare Katarina Stensson

Patrick Breyer:

The EUvsDisinfo database is focused on ‘messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages’. The Commission, however, understands disinformation to mean only verifiably false or misleading information that is created, presented and disseminated for economic gain or to intentionally deceive the public, and may cause public harm. Disinformation does not include reporting errors, satire and parody, or clearly identified partisan news and commentary (COM(2018)0236).

Why does the European External Action Service (EEAS) not apply the latter definition when labeling publications as ‘disinformation’ on its EUvsDisinfo website?

Information on the website suggests that the EEAS considers some value judgements (e.g. claiming that the EU is dead or predicting its demise) to be disinformation. Does the Commission agree with that stance?

The website also suggests that the EEAS considers speculation not supported by evidence, but which may still be true (e.g. that the Coronavirus might have been brought to Wuhan from outside China or produced in a laboratory), to be disinformation. Does the Commission take the same view?

Svar från Borrellon, å kommissionens vägnar:

The EU’s Action Plan Against Disinformation (2018)1 provides for a definition of disinformation. This definition informs the work of the Commission, including in relevant Council Conclusions2 and most recent Communication on tackling COVID-19 disinformation3, which build on existing terminology in response to evolving threats’ landscape and new forms of information manipulation. Combatting the flow of disinformation and misinformation is done in full respect of freedom of expression and other fundamental rights and democratic values.

The website EUvsDisinfo.eu is one of the awareness-raising instruments on harmful disinformation disseminated by from pro-Kremlin sources. It uses transparent criteria and clearly defines the scope of the disinformation covered, in accordance with the 2018 Action Plan and Council Conclusions. A particular focus of the EEAS’ work has been to detect patterns, approaches and strategies in disinformation activities and related products, enabling comprehensive analysis and exposure of disinformation campaigns. The website thus focusses on exposing the manipulative character of the referenced disinformation and on raising awareness on the threat, in this way contributing to resilience building in society and media.

This approach is particularly important in handling the COVID-19 crisis where so far hundreds of related disinformation cases have been detected and exposed, confirming the intentional and coordinated character of the related influence operations.