Last week, EDMO Ireland published a report on disinformation in Ireland. It was presented at a briefing session for Irish stakeholders and special guests, Alberto Rabbacin and Laura Smillie, from the European Commission.
The report provides an overview of disinformation trends in Ireland in terms of actors, narratives, and tactics. In light of recent and current events, there is a specific focus on activities by right-wing extremists.
Although disinformation can be produced or propagated by any actor, it is consistently promoted by those advocating conspiratorial, extremist, and antidemocratic views. Major actor types operating in Irish online spaces include: fringe political parties; online influencers and personalities; alternative media outlets; anonymous users; and bots.
The narratives and themes that circulate in Ireland reflect broad international patterns with conspiracy theories and right-wing extremism flourishing in alternative platforms and increasingly visible on mainstream platforms
Currently, the crisis in accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees is exploited to promote a nativist ideology. Nativism is a particular construction of nationalism that advocates protecting the interests of native or indigenous inhabitants over those of immigrants. Some of the key narrative themes that are prominent in current protests include claims and conspiracy theories about threatening males; inauthentic claims; and population ‘replacement’.
The online dimensions of these protests rely on the circulation of disinformation and misinformation, filmed footage of protest speeches and actions, a network of “‘alternative” investigations and commentary, and the production of memes and slogans that can be easily shared and disseminated by supporters
Other major narratives relate to general conspiracy theories; health and wellness, especially in relation to Covid-19 vaccines; gender and sexual identity; and science and the environment including climate change.
The report provides insights into EDMO Ireland’s wide-ranging work on countering disinformation including:
- A pre-bunking campaign on common logical fallacies that was developed with the University of Cambridge and with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
- Fact checking and engaging audiences to increase trust in news media.
- Developing new tools for detecting and analysing social media content.
- Media literacy campaigns and projects.
- Policy analysis including work on the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation.
Read the report here: