Policy Brief

Tackling Disinformation and Inaccuracy: Euro-Med Digital Opportunities in the Context of the Russian Online Invasion

February 2023


The current media landscape in the Euro-Mediterranean region has grown rather saturated, allowing for the proliferation of disinformation and general inaccuracy in the context of politicised issues. Such is the case with the Russo-Ukrainian war, where disinformation exacerbated existing tensions and rifts between the Southern Neighbourhood (SN) of the European Union (EU) and among EU countries as well. Following in the same line as his last year’s Spot On publication, Abdullatif Sleibi points out in this policy brief how the challenges of disinformation in the Russian-Ukranian war have yet to be balanced along the market logic of supply and demand. The last two decades have demonstrated a strong focus by the EU on countering the supply side of disinformation. Alternatively, Russian efforts in the region over a similar time period indicate a drive to directly amplify points of division and distrust within SN audiences to serve its national interests (Janadze, 2022; OECD, 2022).

This amplification creates a demand for disinformation, a mode of engagement fraud that validates negative perceptions, confirms existing narratives/doubts, and weaponises distrust to fuel resentment against targeted actors like the EU. How have the EU’s disinformation countermeasures restricted its ability to counter the phenomenon in the SN? How can the EU curb the spread of further disinformation in the SN? By investigating the scope and procedures behind current EU disinformation policies, and using social media metrics to recognise Russian influence on the media landscape, Abdullatif Sleibi highlights the necessity of incorporating EU policies that cater to the demand side of digital disinformation.

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