Getting our facts straight: Disinformation and the 2019 European Elections

At the end of 2018 the European Union launched a “war against disinformation” in an attempt to protect the upcoming European Parliament elections in May 2019. The proposed measures include a rapid alert system to support member states in identifying disinformation campaigns, an increased budget of €5m for the detection of disinformation, and pressure on tech companies to get on board with weeding out “fake news.”

Are these measures too little, too late? How concerned do we actually need to be about disinformation in Europe? Russia has often been pointed to as a main source of disinformation but are there other countries or actors that we need to be worried about? And what about the voters in the 28 member states? What can be done to equip them to navigate the digital landscape and find accurate information to guide their voting? Can lessons learned from previous disinformation campaigns help us design better policy responses? These and other questions will be explored in a panel discussion at the Hertie School on 19 February.


Paul-Jasper Dittrich is a Policy Fellow at the Jacques Delors Institute Berlin in the research area “Digital Europe”. His research and expertise focuses on European digital policy, the advancement of the Digital Single Market and the structural changes of the public sphere and politics in the EU due to social media.

Matthias Spielkamp is founder and executive director of AlgorithmWatch. He is co-founder and publisher of the online magazine iRights.info. He testified before several committees of the German Bundestag, i.e. on AI and robotics. Matthias serves on the governing board of the German section of Reporters Without Borders and the advisory councils of Stiftung Warentest and the Whistleblower Network. Photo by Manuel Kinzer.

Rebekah Tromble is Assistant Professor in the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University. Her research focuses on online political discourse and its effects on political attitudes and behavior, digital research methods and ethics, and computational social science. She co-leads “The (Mis)Informed Citizen” project, funded in part by the Alan Turing Institute (ATI), which develops computational tools to help analyse the quality of online news articles and which types of information people are exposed to online.


Anita Gohdes is Professor of International and Cyber Security at the Hertie School, Berlin. Her work focuses on contentious politics in the cyber realm, with a current emphasis on large-scale quantitative analyses of state behavior.