Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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Europe fights fake news as election season underway

An office in Brussels pours through hundreds of potentially fake news reports in a typical day, trying to identify them as such as Europeans in the Netherlands, Germany and France prepare to go to the polls this coming spring.

From the NYT (“Europe Combats a New Foe of Political Stability: Fake News“):

In their open-plan office overlooking a major thoroughfare in Brussels, an 11-person team known as East Stratcom, serves as Europe’s front line against this onslaught of fake news.

Created by the European Union to address “Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns,” the team — composed of diplomats, bureaucrats and former journalists — tracks down reports to determine whether they are fake. Then, it debunks the stories for hapless readers. In the 16 months since the team has been on the job, it has discredited 2,500 stories, many with links to Russia.

In a year when the French, Germans and Dutch will elect leaders, the European authorities are scrambling to counter a rising tide of fake news and anti-European Union propaganda aimed at destabilizing people’s trust in institutions.

As officials play catch-up in the fight against sophisticated hacking and fake news operations, they fear Europe and its elections remain vulnerable at a critical moment: The region’s decades-old project of unity hangs in the balance, challenged by populist forces within the bloc and pressures from Russia and beyond.

“If you look at how European media, and even big American media, are covering the issue now, I would say that it is those few people on that team who have been able to raise awareness,” said Jakub Janda, a deputy director with European Values, a think tank based in Prague, who has worked with East Stratcom.

Many false claims target politicians who present the biggest obstacles to Moscow’s goal of undermining the European Union. Others seek to portray refugees from the Middle East as terrorists or rapists, fomenting populist anger.

Read the whole thing.

Mon, February 20 2017 » * Big Picture Stuff, Main Page, Media