7:11 am

The European Union is extending their efforts to counter the spread of so-called fake news by the Kremlin, says Deutsche Welle.

According to a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy department and security, the working group East Stratcom Task Force will hire new people in 2017, given that France and Germany will have important elections this year.

Until now, East Stratcom Task Force says that it concentrated on Eastern Europe, trying to create what it calls “a tendency to positively narrate in the EU”, to analyze disinformation trends and “destroy myths”. 

But recently, the working group has corrected more and more news about Germany, like an article heavelly distributed by Breitbart, that was claiming a lot of Muslims torched the oldest German church in Dortmund, during New Year’s Eve.

The group also dismantled an article published in December 2016 by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, that claimed 700,000 Germans leave the country every year due to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy on refugees. 

This news is also untrue (official government statistics claim that a total of about 150,000 people annually emigrate from Germany, while their motives were not recorded). 

The lie was not surprising, given that the source quoted by RIA Novosti for the published numbers was not an official authority, but the leader of anti-Islam movement PEGIDA, Lutz Bachman.

There is a network of individuals and organizations (such as Stopfake.org that focuses specifically on misinformation to Ukraine) reporting false news to East Stratcom, whose staff investigates and writes statements to “challenge” those fake news. Then they are converted to an online database that can be accessed in several languages.

The working group, which belongs to the European External Action Service (EEAS), was created in March 2015 to “specifically address the continuous disinformation campaigns undertaken by Russia “. 

It is a relatively modest operation: ten employees gather fake news and then publishes their exposure in a weekly newsletter.

There are many reports stating that several ” troll factories ” supported by the Russian state are used for disinformation. 

But it is difficult to trace specific fake articles back to the Russian government and, since the working group East Stratcom does not quantify the data, and is bases its efforts on a different network to find fake articles, it almost never has evidence that Moscow is behind any fake news.

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