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Helsinki Initiative for Human Rights mobilises to debunk fake news about EP elections

For several years now, there has been increasing public discussion about attempts to influence national political situation voters’ decision through social media disinformation campaigns. In the context of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights is launching a campaign to identify false information repeated by MEP candidates. We are focusing our attention on statements about refugees, migrants and members of the LGBT community.

State-of-art education for Internet users, which includes improving critical thinking and fact-checking skills, is a crucial weapon that one may bring to the fight against disinformation and fake news. The HFHR encourages Internet users to listen carefully to politicians standing in the elections, to check whether their statements are true and to share the identified misrepresentations with others on a special FB group named Truth or Fake News? Anyone can join the group by clicking here. Users are invited to publish links to information which they consider to be fake news repeated by candidates in elections to the European Parliament.

The HFHR will give you tips on how to critically read information and what should raise your suspicions about the truthfulness of emerging statements. We will also suggest which fact-checking portals are best for reviewing such information. On top of that, we will debunk the most commonly repeated untruths or distortions appearing in the context of the election campaign.

In 2015, the European External Action Service set up the East Strat Com, a task force dealing with Russian disinformation campaigns, responsible for detecting and publicising false information, as well as analysing tools, techniques and purposes of disinformation. Fearful of attempts to influence the elections to the European Parliament, in 2018 the European Commission prepared an action plan to ensure free and fair elections in the EU. This action plan aims to address disinformation, increase the transparency of political advertising and explore the possibility of introducing penalties for the illegal use of personal data to deliberately influence the outcome of elections. The European Commission has also prepared a code of conduct to combat disinformation, which was adopted by the biggest online companies such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google or Mozilla.

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