RT France is just the beginning
In light of the recent decision to shut down RT France, it is clear that the fight against disinformation and propaganda must not be taken lightly. The Russian government, through RT and other outlets, has been spreading false information and attempting to sway public opinion for years. While shutting down RT France is a step in the right direction, it is not enough. The propaganda machine of Russia and other actors, such as China, is vast and multifaceted. In order to effectively combat disinformation, Europe must take a comprehensive approach.
East StratCom Task Force: fighting back
One way to do this is by expanding the role of the EU’s East StratCom Task Force. Currently, East StratCom focuses on countering Russian disinformation in the Eastern Neighborhood. However, the reach of Russian and other state-sponsored propaganda extends well beyond the Eastern Neighborhood and into the EU itself. By expanding the mandate and resources of East StratCom, it could become a more global force in the fight against disinformation.
This would require additional funding and resources to be allocated to East StratCom. This includes hiring more staff, increasing its budget for counter-propaganda efforts, and giving it the authority to take action against disinformation in a more direct way. For example, East StratCom could have the authority to shut down or block access to websites and social media accounts that are spreading disinformation, the ability to sue individuals or organizations for spreading false information, and the authority to impose penalties or fines on those found guilty of spreading disinformation.
Additionally, ESCTF could work with tech companies to develop tools and algorithms that can more effectively identify and remove disinformation from social media platforms. For example, the ability to issue take-down notices to social media platforms and internet service providers when they host content that spreads disinformation. Furthermore, it could help establish a legal framework that criminalizes the spread of disinformation, similar to the laws against hate speech and incitement to violence.
Beyond RT: global counter-propaganda
The fight against disinformation and propaganda requires a comprehensive approach. Shutting down RT France is a good step, but it is not enough. The disinformation landscape is constantly evolving, and new actors are emerging. As such, the European Union must take a more proactive stance in identifying and addressing disinformation sources.
As mentioned, East StratCom has been successful in identifying and exposing false narratives spread by Moscow. However, its focus should be expanded to include other actors such as China and Qatar, which also spread false information and attempt to influence public opinion.
China, in particular, poses a significant threat in this regard. Its state-controlled media outlets, such as CGTN and China Daily, have been known to spread false information and propaganda. The Chinese government has also been known to use social media platforms to influence public opinion in the West. This is a significant concern, as China’s global influence continues to grow, and its ability to spread disinformation and propaganda will only increase.
Similarly, Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera has been accused of spreading disinformation and propaganda. The network, which is funded by the Qatari government, has been known to promote false narratives that are in line with the Qatari government’s agenda. This is particularly concerning as Al Jazeera has a large audience in Europe and the Middle East, and its disinformation can have a significant impact on public opinion.
In conclusion, shutting down RT France is a good step, but it is not enough. The fight against disinformation and propaganda must be taken seriously and requires a comprehensive approach. Expanding the role, mandate, resources, and focus of East StratCom is an important step in the right direction. Only by taking a comprehensive and coordinated approach, can Europe effectively combat disinformation and protect its citizens from being swayed by false information. It is time for Europe to step up and assert its leadership on the global stage, and protecting the integrity of our information space is a critical part of that.