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EU Rüstet Sich: Gemeinsame Front gegen Desinformation vor den Europawahlen

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European Election: EU Bodies Prepared to Combat Disinformation

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EU institutions are actively participating in the defense of the European elections scheduled for June 6-9 against disinformation and the manipulation of information aimed at undermining democracy in the EU.

The European elections play a pivotal role in the democratic framework of Europe. As documented by the European Digital Media Observatory, entities both within and outside the EU are engaged in efforts to compromise the integrity of the electoral process, erode faith in democratic systems at large, and fuel societal division and polarization. According to a Eurobarometer survey, a vast majority of EU residents, at 81%, believe that news or information that distorts or outright falsifies reality poses a threat to democracy.

Attempts to deceive the citizens

In recent months, a variety of entities including government agencies, civil society organizations, and fact-checking groups such as the Digital Media Observatory in Europe, the European Fact-Checking Standards Network, and EUvsDisinfo have exposed and brought to public attention numerous instances where voters have been targeted with misleading information in an attempt to deceive them.

Actors spreading disinformation have circulated incorrect details regarding voting processes, deterred citizens from participating in elections, or aimed to create division and polarization ahead of elections by exploiting hot-button or controversial topics. Often, these deceptive efforts involve flooding the information space with an abundance of false and misleading content to inflame and energize public discourse. Top politicians and leaders frequently find themselves the focus of such manipulation campaigns. Various European policy areas commonly fall prey to these disinformation efforts, including support for Ukraine, the European Green Deal, and matters related to migration.

Agents of disinformation have utilized networks of fake accounts and counterfeit or imitated media outlets to skew the information landscape. Recent disclosures by the European External Action Service (EEAS) and national authorities from EU member states have brought to light operations known as "False Facade," "Portal Kombat," and "Doppelgänger."

In a recent investigation report titled "Operation Overload" by the Finnish software company Check First, it was revealed that dubious accounts reached out to over 800 fact-checkers and media outlets across more than 75 countries. The aim was to inundate them with incorrect information, deplete their resources, and coerce them into spreading these falsehoods through debunking articles.

EU Institutions: Intensified Efforts to Safeguard the EU Against Information Manipulation

As threats persist, the European Union has also formulated collective responses. Guided by a distinct mandate from its political leaders, EU institutions have been addressing the challenge of information manipulation and foreign interference, including disinformation, for years.

Diese Initiativen werden in enger Koordination und Abstimmung zwischen verschiedenen Organisationen durchgeführt, wobei ein weites Feld anderer Beteiligter wie EU-Mitgliedsländer, Medieneinrichtungen, Fact-Checking-Gruppen und zivilgesellschaftliche Organisationen einbezogen wird. Ziel ist es, Wissen auszutauschen, Erfahrungen und erfolgreiche Strategien zu teilen sowie abgestimmte Maßnahmen zu entwickeln.

In its role as a leader in addressing threats related to the manipulation of information and foreign interference, the European Union (EU) collaborates closely with partners sharing similar values outside of its borders, including participation in forums such as the G7 Rapid Response Mechanism. To bolster its defenses against external interference attempts, the EU has developed a comprehensive toolkit designed to combat foreign information manipulation and interference. This toolkit includes capabilities ranging from situation awareness and resilience building to the implementation of legal measures and diplomatic actions. All these efforts are consistently undertaken with a firm commitment to upholding European fundamental values, including freedom of speech and expression.

Unsere ganzheitliche Antwort auf die Verbreitung von Falschinformationen stützt sich auf diese Hauptkomponenten:

The institutions of the European Union have supported a range of efforts, including campaigns to raise awareness and initiatives aimed at improving media literacy, all with the goal of enhancing societal resilience against disinformation and manipulation of information. Examples of these efforts include:

New EU Legislation Takes Effect

Während der aktuellen Amtsperiode haben die gesetzgebenden Organe bedeutende Regelwerke verabschiedet, darunter das Digital Services Act (DSA), das Artificial Intelligence Act (KI-Verordnung), sowie das Gesetz zur Transparenz und Zielgruppenansprache in politischer Werbung. Im vorangegangenen Zeitabschnitt hat sich ein spezieller Ausschuss mit der Thematik der ausländischen Einflussnahme auf demokratische Abläufe innerhalb der Europäischen Union, inklusive der Verbreitung von Falschinformationen, auseinandergesetzt. Der Ausschuss gab die Empfehlung, dass die gesamte Gesellschaft, auch durch Maßnahmen jenseits der Gesetzgebung, einen Beitrag zur Lösung dieser Probleme leisten sollte.

Das Digital Services Act (DSA) fordert von Online-Plattformen, sich aktiv mit Risiken auseinanderzusetzen, die Wahlvorgänge bedrohen könnten, einschließlich der Verbreitung von Falschinformationen, die auch durch künstliche Intelligenz erzeugt werden könnten. Dieses Gesetz ist bereits vollständig in Kraft und richtet sich insbesondere an die großen Akteure im Internet, definiert als Plattformen mit mindestens 45 Millionen Nutzern in der EU oder jene, die 10% der Bevölkerung der EU erreichen. In diesem Rahmen hat die Europäische Kommission Untersuchungen gegen X und Meta, einschließlich deren Plattformen Instagram und Facebook, aufgrund von möglichen Verstößen gegen das DSA, besonders hinsichtlich der Wahlintegrität, eingeleitet. Zur Vorbeugung hat die Kommission im März 2024 Richtlinien für Wahlen herausgegeben, die Plattformen daran erinnern, welche Schritte notwendig sind, um den Vorgaben gerecht zu werden. Im April 2024 organisierte die Kommission außerdem einen freiwilligen Belastungstest mit den genannten Plattformen, der Zivilgesellschaft und nationalen Behörden. Ein kontinuierlicher Austausch mit diesen Plattformen wird von der Kommission gepflegt, um eine effektive Implementierung und Befolgung des Digital Services Act zu gewährleisten.

Additional details can be accessed in these background materials.

Contact:

Delphine COLARD

Peter STANO

Thomas REGNIER

Additional Information

Reference

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