DisinfoLab warns of global risk of disinformation in the 2024 elections

Entities or people who “cast doubts” on the elections “represent an attack on European democratic institutions”

The non-governmental organization DisinfoLab warns that 2024 is a year of risky elections, in Europe and around the world, and defends an early system for detecting electoral disinformation outside of campaign periods.

This is one of the ten recommendations made by EU DisinfoLab, an independent non-governmental organization, in a report released in December, made by 45 experts (academics and fact-checkers) with the aim of drawing up an overview of disinformation and “describing and analyzing the most emblematic cases of disinformation, the recurring narratives” in 20 Member States, including Portugal.

“It is urgent to combat electoral disinformation in a quick and coordinated way”, reads the report entitled “Connecting the disinformation dots”, which makes a comparative analysis between the Member States, showing that the Union European Union (EU) faces the same challenges with regard to this type of campaigns in election years, including in Portugal.

Entities or people who “cast doubts” on the elections “represent an attack on European democratic institutions”, he warns.

“However, attention to this problem should not be limited to electoral periods, but adopt a systematic approach based on an early warning system”, the document reads.

2024 will be a historic election year in the world, according to DisinfoLab. Almost half of the world's population – around 49%, according to AFP calculations – will be asked to vote in elections next year: around 30 countries have presidential elections and twenty have legislative ones.

Next year's elections take place in an international context marked by two wars that have been a source of disinformation: the war between Hamas and Israel and in Ukraine, following the invasion by Russia.

In addition to warning about manipulation, another of DisinfoLab's recommendations involves identifying and containing foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI), including “strengthening awareness and training of various interested parties (including national governments )” and the “creation of monitoring, analysis and information exchange mechanisms”.

Reinforced cooperation in the exchange of information and between the community that combats disinformation at European level and the reinforcement of monitoring policies, with adaptation, on a national scale, to the new EU Digital Services Law, are other suggestions from DisinfoLab.

Since August, after a period of adaptation, the European Union has been the first jurisdiction in the world with rules for digital platforms, which covers X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook (from the Meta group).

Recommendation number five is to improve digital and media literacy, the sixth is the need to raise awareness of the risks of misinformation, creating distrust among citizens, and the seventh is to protect minorities and vulnerable groups, such as women and the LGBTQI+ community. , avoiding discrimination and silencing.

The eighth recommendation is to reinforce the protection of journalists and 'fact-checkers', the ninth is the call for free access and sharing of data by researchers, guaranteeing funding for society organizations that combat disinformation, and this is the tenth and latest proposal from the Brussels-based non-governmental organization.