Disinformation and propaganda attempts throughout the COVID-19 catastrophe have shown why we must choose the danger of disinformation and”fake news” seriously. These campaigns led from the authoritarian nations, goal Western societies as well as our liberal democratic values. While it is of extreme significance to fight those efforts, this shouldn’t be at the cost of our values and basic rights. Taking steps that limit freedom of language, placing the whole responsibility on social networking and relying on counter-propaganda approaches utilized by nations such as Russia or China, would signify an indirect achievement for all those authoritarian regimes.
According to the European Union, Russia and China would be the main actors supporting the”enormous wave” of disinformation throughout the COVID-19 crisis. It’s very significant that Vice-President Věra Jourová publicly named these states – particularly China – at communication on”handling COVID-19 disinformation” on 10 June. While Russia continues to be on the radar of the EU, it’s a somewhat new phenomenon in which the EU sees China as a significant threat.
The COVID-19 catastrophe is getting a perfect chance for those regimes to disperse their agendas. The EU’s initial absence of solidarity also played in their own hands. The Union made a comeback after the first shock, yet this catastrophe exposed the vulnerability of our societies into disinformation campaigns.
This intricate cross-border challenge needs a holistic strategy. On the 1 hand, people need to take this threat seriously and continue to expose the principal actors behind those campaigns and their objectives. The tactical communication branch of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and its task forces have been playing a significant part in identifying and exposing disinformation and bogus information with quite limited resources. These attempts must be encouraged both financially and politically. Even though realpolitik is, to a certain degree, a requirement for a global celebrity, political and financial actions should be taken against states, organizations, and people behind these attempts by sacrificing short term pursuits.
On the flip side, the EU’s answer ought to depend on its liberal democratic values. EU member states must act in solidarity and also concentrate on the steps which may be taken in accord with their values. The EU continues to be shying away from promoting those values, both inside and outside its boundaries. These values have been abandoned while pursuing specific policies. Illiberal democracies are emerging and developing more powerful over the EU and its environs. It’s about time that the Union recalls its principles and values.
We can’t counter the malign effect of authoritarian regimes by utilizing their resources and approaches. As opposed to limiting freedom of speech, we have to strengthen it. Independent media and superior journalism have to be encouraged as an effective remedy against disinformation and bogus news. European press suffers from social, political, and economic results of the COVID-19 crisis. While saving our savings, we must not neglect to create mechanisms to encourage independent, pluralistic, and excellent journalism from the EU states and outside.
Social networking firms should certainly take accountability and further develop mechanisms to track, identify, and avoid these campaigns. But, we should remember that social media isn’t the origin of the matter. Steps shouldn’t be limiting free speech online. As opposed to presenting social networking firms because of the scapegoat, like in illiberal democracies, we ought to make them part of the alternative. Independent fact-checking initiatives and platforms to boost social networking literacy must also be encouraged by the EU.
Serbia, an integral goal of Chinese and Russian propaganda, is a fantastic example in this sense. As stated by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Serbians consider that China is the largest foreign contributor for their nation, when it ends up that the EU gives the maximum help and China’s donation is very insignificant.
The EU was performing a great deal for many nations but it fails to convey its attempts. This ought to be an urgent issue for the EU and its leadership. While fiscally supporting these nations and encouraging unity and democracy, the EU must also create much better channels of communication to reach out to individuals and win their hearts.
The EU has an opportunity to turn the COVID-19 disaster into an opportunity. Identifying the danger proved to be a significant step but now it’s time to counteract it. The rule of law and basic rights would be the greatest enemies of those authoritarian nations. The EU may just have a bright future through promoting and strengthening the principles and values inside the EU and outside. In the end, freedom prevails more than dread.