« The disinformation tactics used by malicious actors, both internal and external, are evolving as rapidly as the measures adopted to combat them, » said Julian King, former European Commissioner for Security in the Juncker Commission.
Focussing on Russia’s foreign intervention lead to concentrate on the first generation of disinformation. But now we are at a new level of disinformation: a sort of ‘Fake News 2.0 ′.
A new generation of fake news
The 2019 European elections have seen the emergence of a new generation of fake news.
Indeed, it would appear that Russia is forming local groups in the EU, which then develop and improve Russia’s strategies. Henceforth to denounce Russia’s interference would be obsolete. Russia and others can muddy the waters by working at the local level.
Before the 2019 European elections, Avaaz, an international cyber-activist non-governmental organization, had investigated social media misinformation about the six largest EU member states.
Conclusion: « Many of the misinformation activities appeared to be local and resembled Russian disinformation. Yet it was local misinformation, « said Fadi Quran, its campaign manager.
Such shortcomings in the ability to process fake news have fueled the conclusions of the Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2019.
This report highlights the relationship between multipolar political discourse and the emergence of divisive political media, which contributes to the general erosion of public confidence in information: « Political polarization has encouraged the development of ‘online partisan actions, which, with click-through traps and various forms of misinformation, further undermine trust in the media – raising new questions about how to deliver balanced reporting in the digital age ».
Brussels’ shy response
Security Commissioner Julian King had already discussed binding social media by some rules under the Juncker commission since the Code of Conduct for Social Networks did not have a satisfactory result for the European Commission.
Former digital Commissioner, now innovation Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel had previously worried about the rapid development of fake news.
In January 2019, she said in an interview, « new technologies are advancing extremely quickly. » She also called on the EU to « strengthen her efforts. »
Needless to say, the new Von der Leyen Commission will have to regulate disinformation before it ends up controlling European policy.
The growing impact of fake news
Observers have often accused Brussels of launching a « low cost » fight against disinformation. Yet fake news has a significant impact on our society. While their political impact is highly problematic, they also have a direct effect on the world economy.
A study by the Israeli cybersecurity company CHEQ and the University of Baltimore has just revealed that the total cost of fake news for 2019 alone was estimated at $ 78 billion (70 billion euros).
This impact is distributed as follows:
• 39 billion dollars (35 billion euros) in stock market losses directly caused by the effects of this false information
• 17 billion dollars (15 billion euros) linked to financial misinformation
• 9 billion dollars (8 billion euros) on the health sector
• 9 billion dollars (8 billion euros) to repair the damage to the reputation (of a person, a party, a company)
• 3 billion dollars (2.7 billion euros) invested by platforms and websites to regulate and debunk false information
• 235 million dollars (210 million euros) in advertising losses for brands due to misinformation
M2 Cyberjustice – Promotion 2019-2020