Written by 12:32 Business

Disinformation Spreads Amid EU Elections

The fury of European farmers is more than just a major issue in elections across the continent this week — it’s also one of the primary subjects of disinformation timed to the vote.

In Italy, inaccurate claims circulated on social media that the European Union was banning animal breeding; a rumor making the rounds in Spain claimed that the government was causing droughts by demolishing dams.

Those claims are part of an abundance of deceptive content aimed at voters electing a new European Parliament, spread by far-right politicians, information operatives based outside Europe and others, according to disinformation researchers. It is coming in the form of recycled videos and photos presented as current, misinterpretations of policy proposals and inflammatory political ads, addressing topics like agriculture, climate change and migration. Foreign propaganda, even content explicitly prohibited by the European Union, continues to seep into the information ecosystem.

In recent weeks, disinformation about the 27-nation bloc reached its highest level since tracking began in 2023, according to the European Digital Media Observatory, a collaboration among fact-checkers, academics and others focused on disinformation.

Many of the false narratives now reaching the electorate are far from new. Instead, they are reconstituting old prejudices and misconceptions to fit current events, said Alexandre Alaphilippe, the executive director of the EU DisinfoLab, an independent research organization in Brussels.

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Last modified: 8 June 2024
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