Elections and Disinformation: Foreign Intervention as Political Warfare
IED Seminar and Conference
Budapest, 29 April 2019
Europe has been hit hard by this new mode of international conflict: from Ukraine to the UK referendum and from the 'Lisa' case in Germany to #MacronLeaks in France, there are indications that there are ongoing disinformation and influence operations in the continent. In view of the upcoming elections for the European Parliament in 2019, where 28 elections will be organised in the course of a few days between 23 and 26 May, this event combined academic and policy-oriented research in order to contribute to the public debate over political warfare, disinformation and election interference in the cyber era.
© Photos: Marianna Sárközy / IED
Internal seminar among experts
During this afternoon session, the experts where able to exchange on the current threats posed by fake news and manipulation of information in social media. They studied the Mechanics of social media and how to draw attention and spread (dis)information to large group of people. They demonstrated how users help to create tools used "against" them including creation of AI (precisely how they are aiding machine learning process used to improve gathering data).
Organized and wide aggression (which is disinformation) is possible between states without declaring war in the traditional sense. A special case of such aggression is attempts to influence the election and support candidates who are beneficial from the aggressor's point of view. Such activities can be effectively hidden and, to some extent, secret, thanks to the tools provided by the Internet.
The seminar focused especially on the current situation in Ukraine and the manipulation of soldiers social media accounts when being on the front.
Finally the experts evaluated the current response and tools put in place by the European Union to counter disinformation.
Evening Public Conference
In the early evening, a public conference was organized by IED on the same topic in cooperation with Uj Kezdet, to raise awareness on the threat posed by media disinformation on democracy. The speakers of the afternoon session were joined by Peter Krekö, Hungarian specialist of the issue, and MP Krisztina Hohn (Uj Kezdet). The conference benefited from Hungarian interpretation and was attended by an audience of 40 people.