Interim Briefing: Propaganda and Digital Campaigning in the EU Elections

2019 EU Elections Information Operations Analysis: Interim Briefing Paper

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) has uncovered a range of digital influence campaigns targeting the European Parliamentary elections through a mix of social media mapping, undercover online reporting and media monitoring.

This interim briefing paper addresses who is behind these malign influence operations and analyses the techniques they use. It also assesses the record of the tech companies in addressing these threats to electoral integrity.

A full post-election analysis will be published in the coming weeks and experts at ISD can be made available for comment on the election results.

Findings include:
• The tactical adoption of the ‘Putin playbook’ by non-state actors, from far right online militias to populist parties in their use of automated influence operations;
• A shift away from ‘information warfare’ to ‘narrative competition’ with the promotion of ‘culture wars’ around issues like migration, Muslims in Europe, family vs. progressive values and increasingly climate policy
• Anti-Semitism, misogyny, and racism as weapons in these elections, amplified by automated accounts;
• Failings of the major tech companies in detecting and responding to such campaigns and in implementing their commitments to improved transparency around political advertising
• Common patterns across the countries in our study that go beyond the copying of the latest digital tactics and constitute a “playbook” for a full-scale campaign against constitutional democracy.

You are welcome to use our data but please cite ‘The Institute for Strategic Dialogue’.

DOWNLOAD THE INTERIM BRIEFING PAPER HERE

The Long Tail of Influence Operations: A Case Study on News Front

This case study examines two websites and two blogging accounts which appear to be linked to News Front, a Crimean-based news organisation previously accused of being a source of pro-Kremlin disinformation and influence operations. While the impact of the site’s activity is low, the case study provides a glimpse into the inner workings of the broader disinformation ecosystem and sheds light on the long tail of state-linked online assets.