Fighting Disinformation Together

Fighting Disinformation Together

Fighting Disinformation Together, © Colourbox

03.08.2022 - Article

Disinformation related to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine

What is disinformation?

Disinformation is false or misleading infor­mation which is intentionally distributed. This distinguishes it from false or misleading infor­mation which emerges and is shared without an intent to deceive.

Non-state actors in Germany and abroad as well as foreign government actors use disinformation for various reasons. Distributors of disinforma­tion seek to deceive their audience and encour­age them to spread false and misleading infor­mation further. If a foreign government spreads disinformation with the intent of exerting ille­gitimate influence on another country, this con­stitutes a hybrid threat.

What is the significance of disinformation related to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine?

For years, the Russian government has used its state media and supposedly neutral channels (which are in fact controlled or funded by the Russian government) to spread disinformation and propaganda, including in Germany. In early March 2022, the EU issued sanctions against sev­eral Russian media outlets, because these outlets are directly or indirectly controlled by the Rus­sian government and have played a major role in spreading propaganda supporting the mil­itary aggression against Ukraine. The Russian government is now making greater use of social media to distribute disinformation and propa­ganda.

First of all, the Russian government is trying to justify its war of aggression on Ukraine which violates international law. Secondly, the Krem­lin is working specifically to make it more diffi­cult or impossible for the international commu­nity to respond to the war and for the public to support Ukraine.

What is Germany’s Federal Government doing to fight disinformation?

The Federal Foreign Office and the Press and In­formation Office of the Federal Government, as well as the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community and its executive agencies, are care­fully monitoring information about the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine for false and misleading content. The Federal Government is engaged in proactive, fact-based communication tailored to the target group, to provide informa­tion on the current situation and the govern­ment response. In addition to appropriate reactive measures such as correcting false information, the Federal Government is focusing on prevention and measures to increase resilience of the entire state and society.

Measures to increase public awareness of the issue of disinformation and to encourage a more criti­cal approach to information and sources, particu­larly those in social media, are an integral part of this task, which is the responsibility of our entire society.

In addition, the Federal Government is providing further assistance, including in the form of emer­gency aid for media professionals who have fled Ukraine, Russia or Belarus (JX Fund) to support exile media which provide independent reporting on their home countries. This assistance is intend­ed to provide journalists with financial support and the tools they urgently need for their work.

Along with this approach involving the entire so­ciety in the fight against disinformation, cooper­ation between the federal, state and local levels, within the EU and with partner countries is im­portant for countering disinformation effective­ly. The Federal Government also communicates regularly with providers of social media, with the aim of promoting transparent rules that are strictly enforced by the Providers.

What can you do?

Ask critical questions instead of simply sharing information

False or misleading news items or images are of­ten shared by private individuals not because

they want to cause harm, but because they are concerned. But such news items or images may help to spread uncertainty or create panic. The more emotional or dramatic the content, the more often it is shared. That is why it is so im­portant to critically question news items and not forward them further. Don’t share content with­out checking it first. Don’t share any content that seems questionable.

Check sources and who sent the information

It is always helpful to check questionable content against at least two other sources. Current news is available from the public service news media and reputable daily and weekly newspapers and magazines.

The official websites of Germany’s federal and state governments are also reliable sources of in­formation. In the event of crises, such as Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine, they offer special web pages with in-depth reporting.




Use fact-checking and read information

Many media outlets have fact-checking depart­ments which examine the authenticity of pho­to and video material from conflict regions. The independent research institute Correctiv doc­uments and analyses disinformation and fake news about the war in Ukraine currently in inter­national circulation.

The Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) offers extensive information on its website about Russia’s war on Ukraine as well.


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