The European Union said Friday that prior to its election last month, Russia had engaged in a “continued and sustained” disinformation campaign, claiming that it had proof to sustain its claim.
According to the bloc’s Security Commissioner, Julian King, Russians sought to influence voters, particularly those in countries like Poland, where populists had been gaining momentum by using social media accounts, bots, and fake news sites.
“The number of disinformation cases attributed to Russian sources … doubled as compared to the same period a year ago,” said King, who provided a report by European Commission investigators, DW informs.
The report says that although the evidence gathered does not distinctly identify a “cross-border disinformation campaign…targeting the European elections” specifically, it clearly showed there was persistent and “sustained disinformation activity by Russian sources aiming to suppress turnout and influence voter preferences.”
To clarify the contradicting statement, King said the evidence pointed to the fact that the disinformation campaign was “locally focused” and not broadly scaled.
However, EU officials stress that the election meddling was nothing like Facebook’s big scandal with Cambridge Analytica. However, the campaign still benefited some candidates.
The report details instances of social media misuse, including one where a Twitter account used as part of the effort suggested that the entire EU project had Nazi roots. Others made claims bordering conspiracy theories, such as that the collapse of so-called Western Christian values was tightly connected to the Notre Dame fire, or that the collapse of the conservative and far-right coalition government in Austria was brought about by the “European deep state.”
“Millions of false, computer-generated user accounts, so-called bots, have been shut down. But a lot more must be done to find fake news,” said Vera Jourova, underlining the importance of transparency by tech giants.