Diplomacy dies in darkness: Europe and information manipulation

Diplomacy dies in darkness: Europe and information manipulation

“Information manipulation” or just plain “fake news”? How France is grappling with a very modern threat Whether it is the refugee crisis, Catalonia, or last year’s French and German elections, most European leaders have had to confront the manipulation of information that is central to the post-truth world we now inhabit. France has been especially

“Information manipulation” or just plain “fake news”? How France is grappling with a very modern threat

Whether it is the refugee crisis, Catalonia, or last year’s French and German elections, most European leaders have had to confront the manipulation of information that is central to the post-truth world we now inhabit.

France has been especially active on this front, from Emmanuel Macron branding RT and Sputnik “lying propaganda organs” in the very presence of Vladimir Putin to a bill aiming to repress disinformation (later rebranded as “information manipulation”) which proved so controversial and ambiguous that the Senate has blocked it. Government ministries have also stepped in: in April the foreign ministry organised a big conference which the foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian himself addressed (and this was itself a thematic follow-up to the recent French strategy on digital). Now, the foreign ministry’s policy planning, CAPS, and the in-house defence ministry think-tank, IRSEM, have jointly authored an analytical report which they informally released at the French ambassadors’ conference, and then publicly launched at a conference opened by defence minister Florence Parly.

All this would not be so bad if European societies did not provide a fertile ground, in particular due to a crisis of trust in elites, political communication, media, and experts

The report defines the problem of information manipulation as “the intentional and massive dissemination of false or biased news for hostile political purposes” (stressing that parts of this are nothing new). It focuses on manipulation that is both external interference and state-led (it does not cover domestic manipulation). The report dismisses the vague and controversial notion of “fake news” in favour of the more precise term “information manipulation”. It defines this as the newest dimension of an existing phenomenon, noting that “the unprecedented capacity of the internet and social networks to diffuse information and render it viral threatens democracies and the sovereignty of their institutions”.

The report issues no fewer than 50 recommendations for states, private businesses (including media and digital platforms), and civil society. But its seven overarching recommendations are as follows:

Define and clearly distinguish the terminology
Do not underestimate the threat
See beyond the short term
Strengthen the resilience of our societies
Do not surrender the internet to extremists
Do not yield to the temptation of counter-propaganda
Do not rely on “technological solutionism” because the response to a multidimensional issue can only be a multidimensional solution

One of the most interesting parts of the report is the final, look-ahead, section, which points to four trends:

Kinetisation: communications infrastructure will be physically targeted more often (such as cables to Crimea cut during the military phase of the annexation), especially underwater and in space
Personalisation: at a massive scale (such as text messages sent via mobile phones to adversaries in Ukraine; targeting via social networks; false information introduced into real and legitimate campaigns such as the Panama Papers or the #MeToo campaign)
Mainstreamisation: relying less exclusively on obvious agents such as RT and Sputnik, and more actively on less obvious ones
Proxy-isation: targeting easier-to-penetrate areas such as Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and north Africa, which then become proxies with a view to targeting Europe and America (including via migrant communities)

Surprisingly enough, RT and Sputnik have given considerable coverage to the release and content of the report. But other newspapers, such as Le Monde and Libération, have also covered the report, and criticised its almost exclusive focus on Russian activities.

Manipulation is not merely the dissemination of false information. Its objective is to create confusion, to delegitimise possible actions by challenging data, and to divide by complicating both diplomacy and action at a national level. But the issue is not just about fighting against manipulation and manipulators. How to fight gullibility and relativism also deserves attention, especially on foreign policy which has for too long remained an elite game. Of course, all this would not be so bad if European societies did not provide a fertile ground, in particular due to a crisis of trust in elites, political communication, media, and experts. This report recognises this, and consequently insists on increasing “resilience” as a solution.

The battle against information manipulation will continue to be a priority for the foreign policy of many European states. In its upcoming presidency of the G7 in 2019, France currently plans to emphasise journalist protection, engagement with civil society, and getting platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to cooperate with states. Both Macron and Theresa May committed to a similar type of cooperation last year with a view to developing tools with tech companies to stop online extremism.

Eventually, information manipulation could become a topic for the group of “goodwill powers”, which should support international cooperation more actively, as suggested by Le Drian in a recent interview. His German counterpart, Heiko Maas, also suggested an alliance of multilateralist powers last summer, and made exposing fake news a prerequisite for such an alliance. Maas rather pointed to disinformation coming from the other side of the Atlantic, whether on trade or on the Iran deal. But both agree that it is possible to pursue the right policy – and to establish it at the multilateral level – only if we agree on the facts rather than manipulate them in the first place.

Read more on: View from the Capitals,European Power,European Strategy,Digital Power

Please follow and like us:
error

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

RSS BIDD

  • Why US Will Need Your Social Media Details Before Issuing Visas 9th June 2019
    The US state department has revealed that US visa applicants will need to submit their social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers as part of the application process. Applicants will now have to give up their account names on a list of social media platforms as well as volunteer the details of their accounts on any […]
  • „Kosovo je Srbija“: Ivica Dačić se priključio kampanji ispisivanja poruke na novčanicama 5th June 2019
    Novčanice različitih valuta su retke preostale stvari koje kruže celim svetom. Od nedavno se na nekima od njih može naći i poruka „Kosovo je Srbija“, ispisana na srpskom ili engleskom jeziku. Akciju je na Fejsbuku i Instagram profilu svog restorana pokrenuo Vojin Cucić, pozvavši pratioce da na novčanicama sitnih apoena dolara i evra napišu ovu […]

RSS Diplo Portal Belgrade

  • День России в г. Нови Сад 15th June 2019
    13 июня в концертном зале компании НИС г. Нови Сад состоялось торжественное мероприятие, посвященное празднованию «Дня России». Праздничное мероприятие, посвященное «Дню России» в городе Нови Сад, по традиции, вот уже 12-й год подготавливает и проводит Общество соотечественников и друзей России «Россия». В этом году гости мероприятия смогли насладиться Праздничным концертом и фотовыставкой «Всемирное наследие глазами […]
  • Stipendije za studiranje u Grčkoj za 2019 – 2020. akademsku godinu 14th June 2019
    Ambasada Grčke u Beogradu (Strahinjića Bana 76) obaveštava zainteresovane da Direkcija za obrazovanje i kulturna pitanja Ministarstva spoljnih poslova Republike Grčke, objavljuje za akademsku 2019 – 2020. godinu stipendije za osnovne, master i doktorske studije na grčkim univerzitetima i višim tehnološkim ustanovama (višim školama). Molimo zainteresovane da zahteve podnesu direktno u Ambasadi Grčke u Beogradu […]

Catalog of Destroyed and Desecrated Churches in Kosovo ( VIDEO )

Most Viewed Posts

  • Twitter Suspends Hamas Accounts
    By ROBERT MACKEYLast Updated, Sunday, Jan. 19 | Several Twitter accounts used by the military wing of Hamas have been suspended by the social network in recent days, angering the Islamist militants and delighting Israel’s military. #Twitter has suspended the official account of #Hamas, a terrorist group that uses social media to threaten #Israel http://t.co/g1UxKc9fpf
  • The State of Gastrodiplomacy
    By Paul Rockower It is fitting that a magazine devoted to studying innovations and trends in the field of public diplomacy has turned its focus on an increasingly popular forms of cultural diplomacy: gastrodiplomacy. Public Diplomacy Magazine’s Summer 2009 issue on Middle Powers explored the behavior of middle powers and the contours of “middlepowermanship.” Articles

How Belgrade based diplomats use Digital Diplomacy and Internet 2016

Diplo Portal Belgrade

Please follow and like us:
error
Scroll Up
WP Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com
error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)