CEDC StratCom Expert Workshop: “Combating Fake News and Disinformation Campaigns”

During the past few decades, especially since commercialization brought the Internet to the wider audience, we have been witnessing a revolution in the way people interconnect and exchange information.

Social networks, various media online platforms and services are becoming the primary modus operandi of communication, information exchange, conducting business and learning. Beside many positive aspects of this proliferation of information, the lack of control over the digital content being published and shared has sounded an alarm about a growing abundance of disinformation that is widely available to the public and coexists alongside accurate information.

While fake news is not a new phenomenon, unique to the COVID-19 crisis, the current health crisis is certainly having a multiplier effect on their spread. Fake news are often fabricated to mislead, erode public confidence in the government, polarize political sphere and cause widespread confusion on important matters, posing a serious risk to our states’ democracy.

In order to consolidate the CEDC states’ individual efforts in combating fake news and disinformation campaigns, on 8 June 2021 the Croatian CEDC Presidency organized an Experts StratCom Workshop intended to discuss the ongoing efforts to combat fake news and explore the opportunities on pooling the CEDC resources together to complement the EU efforts on tackling disinformation.

Beside keynote speakers, Mr Gordan Akrap, President of the Hybrid Warfare Research Institute, the Republic of Croatia, Mr Nikola Brzica, Head of the Expert Council at the Business Security Academy, the Republic of Croatia and Mr Jan Havránek, Deputy Minister of Defence for Defence Policy and Strategy, Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic, the Workshop also featured distinguished professionals, researchers, experts and practitioners from the Central European states.

During two panel sessions, entitled „Government Responses and Interventions to Fake News” and “The Role of the Academy in Strengthening the Development of Media Literacy Policy”, the CEDC StratCom experts discussed various aspects of the prevalence, impact, and diffusion of disinformation, offering comparative perspectives from the CEDC countries.

By comparing policy actions, communication strategies and country-specific communication activities, as well as by exploring the CEDC specific toolbox, this workshop is envisioned to be a first step towards building wider regional resilience to challenges posed by the current “infodemic” and will be followed by a subsequent StratCom Worksop in September 2021, where the CEDC StratCom experts will be joined by their Western Balkans counterparts.