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Is Europe ready for an information war?

What does it mean to “win the information war”? During the Russian invasion of Ukraine, headlines have proclaimed Ukraine to be “winning” its information war against Russia. But what is an information war? Is it a fancy name for propaganda? Does it also include, for example, controlling the flow of information to open source platforms (which can then be geolocated using Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) techniques)? What might future information war mean in a world of the metaverse and Extended Reality (XR)?

Want to learn more about information war? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

What do our readers think? We recently published a report titled European Voices for Healthier Democracies: Combatting Disinformation, Misinformation & Fake News. We involved 54 young people (aged 18-35) from our community, hailing from across the EU, and asked them about their experiences with disinformation, misinformation, and trust in information.

During one focus group, Marta from Poland told us:

💬 I was a big fan of social media when it was starting years ago, but it starts to scare me more and more [because algorithms lead people into] a very weird parallel universe of information

While Antonia from Germany said she thought the COVID-19 pandemic had made the situation worse for many people:

💬 In the Covid pandemic, a lot of people fell into the fake news hole and really started to create their own truth… It’s not just believing some facts, but really not trusting anything anymore that comes out of official sources. It’s been getting more and more, it doesn’t stop.

Is Marta right to be scared? How can we get people out of these ‘fake news’ holes that Antonia talks about?

To get a response, we put Marta and Antonia’s comments to panelists during Friends of Europe’s recent event on “21st century warfare: a whole of society approach to resilience”.

Responding were Chris Kremidas-Courtney, Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence at Friends of Europe, and Hanna Linderstål, CEO and Founder of the Swedish data company Earhart Business Protection Agency, which tracks online disinformation and cyber-threats. You can see what they said in the video above.

Is Europe ready for an information war? Should we be scared by the influence of social media algorithms on politics and society? How can we get people out of ‘fake news’ holes Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.