Russian disinformation distorts American and European democracy – so ran headlines around the world in 2018.
The New York Times and The Observer of London have both reported on how dating-mining firm Cambridge Analytica has shared with Russia information harvested from the Facebook profiles of 50 million users. That information, in turn, was used in 2016 to illegally micro-target voters in the US and the UK: audiences were urged to support Donald Trump in that year’s US presidential election, and to vote “yes” in the UK Brexit leave campaign.
A former Cambridge Analytica employee said it used algorithms that ‘took fake news to the next level’ using data inappropriately obtained from Facebook.
The spread of such false stories has become one of the Kremlin’s most powerful weapons. And in Ukraine, Russian military intervention has only compounded that threat. Fighting against misinformation is therefore one of the key priorities for Internews Ukraine.
- The book Words and Wars: Ukraine Facing Russian Propaganda was presented in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and European institutions in Brussels.
- The book Voice of War: veterans’ stories was presented in Paris at Salon du Livre, the most popular book event in France. This gave Europeans the opportunity to hear the voices of 22 veterans who defended Ukraine from Russian aggression.
- The Ukrainian documentary The Limits of Waiting won “Best Director of a Foreign Language Documentary” at the 2018 Madrid International Film Festival. Thanks to the screening in Madrid, a large audience abroad learned about Ukrainians who were held captive or went missing as a result of the military conflict in the east of Ukraine.
- Internews Ukraine promoted factual, objective reporting on Ukraine via the UkraineWorld platform, creating and publishing 62 articles, 8 videos and 5 podcasts for western audiences. Our articles were disseminated in leading foreign media and analytical sources including Atlantic Council, EUObserver, Euractiv, and the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels.
Achievements in Ukraine
- Our strategic communication efforts in support of public administration reform reached 2.5 million Ukrainians, who are now aware of the civil service renewal. We developed a logo, a brandbook, and a PA Reform Communication strategy; as a result, more than 20 thousand applicants sent their CVs to join a brand-new team of civil servants.
- Ukrainian veterans of the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine presented their book ‘Voice of War’ at the Book Arsenal fair in Kyiv.
- Our book about Kremlin propaganda ‘Words and Wars’ was recognized as one of ‘the best summer books’ in the Ukrainian literary contest ‘Book of the Year 2018’ (sociology and political science category).
- We provided mentorship for 20 NGOs that work in the field of communication for governance reforms. With our help their communication activities will become even more efficient.
Internews Staff Achievements
Meanwhile, our dedicated team of 50 professionals
- Educated journalists about device and information security at Digital Security School;
- Defended the free internet in Ukraine with the project Internet Freedom;
- Provided PR-support for the Culture and Creativity programme in coordination with members of the EU-Eastern Partnership,
- Released the video ‘Respect Diversity: Different But Equal’, which impressed Ukrainian audience with its message of acceptance and unity. The video went viral: during the first two months it got 100k views, 1100 likes and 460 shares.
- In cooperation with Georgian and Moldovan teams, we created the multimedia project ‘Neighbors’, providing a glimpse of the everyday life of people in our countries. United by borders, all three states face quite similar challenges in business and urban development.
The twenty-first century has seen the weaponization of information on an unprecedented scale. Powerful new technology makes the fabrication of content simple, and social networks dramatically increase the speed with which ‘fake news’ can travel around the globe. But as Winston Churchill once said, 'If you're going through hell, keep going'. We will continue to do our best in ensuring information security and combating Russian propaganda.