Students of Lviv University who used Russian social networks will not pass their exams – that was the essence of the first case of pro-Kremlin disinformation recorded and debunked in the EUvsDisinfo database. In reality, pro-Kremlin media blew out of proportion a personal post by one of the university teachers, and the claim was officially denied by the university itself.
It was 2015, and the European Council has just adopted a mandate for the new communication team to be established within the European External Action Service, with the aim to challenge Russia's ongoing disinformation campaigns. Later on, this mission will expand to communicating and promoting EU policies and values in the Eastern neighbourhood and support to the independent media.
Back then, the team consisted of seven people, who took the challenge to respond to disinformation and increase European resilience against it. The team monitored pro-Kremlin media in a few languages, set up a database to collect evidence of disinformation and debunked them on the first website of its kind – EUvsDisinfo.
Four years and over 6,500 disinformation cases later, EUvsDisinfo is a fully-fledged project within the EEAS, monitoring and covering pro-Kremlin disinformation targeting more than 20 countries, including the EU, the Eastern Partnership countries, Western Balkans and the South neighbourhood. The work of EUvsDisinfo staff was featured in hundreds of media outlets all over Europe and beyond, in more than 15 languages. Its voice became a crucial element in the debate on how to tackle disinformation and increase resilience against it. Its tools are used by researchers worldwide.
The EU’s engagement in combating pro-Kremlin disinformation has come a long way since the inception of the EUvsDisinfo project. Numerous EU institutions, member states, non-governmental organisations, companies and media are now involved in protecting integrity of democracies.
But the fight against disinformation begins with each of us. The more we know about the phenomenon, the more effectively we can protect ourselves and society from poisonous, polarising and polluted debate. Therefore, EUvsDisinfo website, now revamped, continues to support researchers, media and interested citizens in their quest to understand and resist pro-Kremlin disinformation. Its online search engine with cases of disinformation remains the only such publicly available tool in the world. It is searchable by language, country, date or keyword. The latest examples cover disinformation surrounding climate crisis and vocal youth activist Greta Thunberg, attempts to revisit history of WWII, the role of the European Parliament, and many more.
The website also includes the online library, with the largest collection of publicly available studies devoted to pro-Kremlin disinformation: varying from academic publications to newspaper articles and country case studies, information about internet trolls and bots and exposing pro-Kremlin tactics. Several in-depth case studies, e.g. on disinformation about MH17 airplane downing and poisoning of Sergei Skripal are available for those interested in tactics applied to confuse societies.
As the clash between reliable information and manipulations, between truth and disinformation continues. EUvsDisinfo is here to help you make informed and independent decisions.