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Disinformation threatens 2024, warns European Union enne

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Disinformation is a “threat to the security” of democracies, warns Josep Borrell. (Archive photo)

Agence France-Presse

The year 2024, which will see almost half of the planet affected by elections, is a “crucial year” in the fight against disinformation, said Tuesday the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell.

Disinformation is one of the most significant threats that democracies must face, Mr. Borrell told the press, in presenting the second report on this subject established by its services.

Russia has for years been developing a vast infrastructure designed to lie, manipulate and destabilize on an industrial scale, Borrell warned.

This is a threat to the security of democracies, which requires a fight against an industry that manufactures lies, he warned.

Some 945 million Indians are called to the polls in May for general elections in this country which last year became the most populous in the world, ahead of China.

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More than 400 million voters from 27 European countries are called upon to nominate 720 MEPs in early June during a giant transnational vote.

Disinformation is certainly not new, but its means and capabilities have been increased tenfold by social networks and the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI), even if the use of the latter is still limited, according to this report.

The document, however, notes a few examples, including that of a video created from scratch by AI showing Moldovan President Maia Sandu as if she were #x27;expressed from an official channel of his government, or even that of a retouched video calling the Ukrainians for a coup d'état.

This second report, prepared by the European External Action Service (EEAS), studied a total of 750 cases of disinformation worldwide between November 2022 and December 2023.

Months before the elections in Poland last year, Belarusian official media, for example, launched several news channels on social networks targeting Polish voters, with fake videos attacking candidates.

Russia, but also China, are the main culprits in this lie factory, according to Mr. Borrell, with Ukraine becoming the main target at a time when Moscow is seeking to justify the invasion of this country by its army, since the launch of its special operation on February 24, 2022.

Politicians or public figures are targeted, but also celebrities like stars Margot Robbie or Nicolas Cage, whose images were used to reach the widest possible audience.

Faced with this type of attack, the report recommends a set of measures to better combat the phenomenon.

Protecting yourself from disinformation before an election must be prepared months in advance, and it is important to extend and adapt these measures after the election, he recommends.

Four types of responses are possible: ignore, contain, minimize and redirect.

During the electoral campaign, the actors engaged in the fight against disinformation must be able to differentiate precisely between ignoring threats or responding to them.

Indeed, sometimes, taking measures can result in giving importance to the false news that we seek to combat, affirm the authors of this report.

If it is necessary to act and contain this threat, the report suggests informing the platforms conveying false news as soon as possible, by asking them, for example, to ensure closer monitoring of any content relating to the election in question.

Sanctions must also be possible in the event of laxity on the part of certain social networks or platforms, the report further indicates.

Dangerous content is spreading like a cancer that endangers the health of our democracy, said Mr. Borrell. But we have the tools to effectively fight this disease. We have the capacity, but we need to do more.

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