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    Propaganda

    Module 5: ‘False News’, Misinformation & Propaganda

    Unlike dis- and misinformation, the spread of propaganda is expressly prohibited in international law, provided that it propagates for war or advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement.(1) In these instances, multiple direct legal remedies such as criminal prosecutions and interdictory or injunctive relief may result. However, propaganda does not often meet these thresholds. In these instances, MIL strategies and campaigns and fact-checking, coupled with the publication of counter-narratives or counter-disinformation, are effective remedies.(2)

    EU strategy against propaganda

    The EU’s strategy against propaganda involves three key components: identification, removal, and countering without engaging in counter-propaganda.(3)

    1. Identification: The EU acts as a coordination platform between Member States, encouraging information sharing and best practices exchange. Europol established a specialised unit in 2015 (EU IRU) to combat terrorist propaganda online, aiming to detect and track such content.
    2. Content removal: Regulation 2021/784 has been implemented compelling internet platforms operating in the EU to swiftly remove terrorist content upon authorities’ injunctions, preventing its dissemination. Notably, this regulation applies to platforms regardless of their headquarters location.
    3. Countering Propaganda The EU emphasises training citizens to resist biased information and supports good-quality journalism and independent media. Platforms such as the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) focus on producing alternative communications to counter extremist propaganda.

    Footnotes

    1. Article 20 of the ICCPR, read with Article 4(a) of CERD. Back
    2. See, for example, the UK Government Communications Services, ‘RESIST: Counter-disinformation toolkit’ (accessible at https://www.fundacioncarolina.es/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Toolkit-UK.pdf). Back
    3. Marie Robin, ‘European Policies in the fight to counter propaganda’ (2023) The Research and Studies Centre on Europe (accessible at https://www.robert-schuman.eu/en/european-issues/665-european-policies-in-the-fight-to-counter-propaganda). Back