Event: Disinformation in EU elections: The role of social media & technology trends

At the Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic to the European Union (Avenue de Cortenbergh 79, 1000 Brussels)

21 October 2019, 9.00-18.00

How have social media changed our ways of interacting and communicating? And what is their impact on public discourse, the media landscape, and our democracies? The COMPACT symposium brings together policymakers, academics, NGOs, and other stakeholders to discuss ways to make social media and our democratic discourses more resilient to extremism and disinformation, especially in regard to elections.

The European Elections in May 2019 have been viewed as a potential target of foreign influence, but also as susceptible to the spread of false information and misleading political advertisement from actors within the EU. While traditional national electoral legislations formulate rules about political advertisement, these rules were developed in a traditional media environment and may not be fit for a changing social media landscape. This conference would like to debate whether the set of measures proposed by the European Commission in advance of the elections has been successful. Further, we will discuss what else could be done to make sure our electoral system, social media legislation, and online political advertisement are fit for the digital century. We will present preliminary findings from the COMPACT project which is mapping technological, regulatory, and policy developments in social media and content convergence. The aim of the COMPACT project is to raise awareness about emerging legal, policy, and technological developments, and increase the understanding of how the convergence of those trends influences media and society.

Programme:

9.00 – 9.30       Networking welcome coffee

9.30 – 9.45       Keynote speech

H.E. Peter Javorčík, Ambassador of Slovakia to the European Union (tbc)

9.45 – 11.00     Panel 1: What lessons can be learnt from disinformation in the European Elections? How effective were the measures taken?

Chair: Mr. Paolo Cesarini, Head of Unit, Media Convergence and Social Media at DG CNECT, European Commission

Speakers:

  • Alexandre Alaphilippe, Executive Director, EU DisinfoLab
  • Mikulas Peksa, MEP, Czech Pirate Party
  • Lubos Kuklis, Chair of ERGA and Executive Director at The Office of the Slovak Council for Broadcasting and Retransmission (CBR)
  • Raphael Kergueno, Policy Officer, Transparency International

11.00 – 11.15     Coffee break

11.15 – 12.30     Panel 2: What types of threats? Misinformation, disinformation, hacking – who are the players and what to do about those threats?

Chair: Lutz Güllner, Head of Division Strategic Communications, European External Action Service

Speakers:

  • Martin Gajdoš, Slovak Ministry of Interior, Dept. of Elections, Referendum and Political Parties, Slovakia (tbc)
  • Miroslava Sawiris, Globsec NGO, Slovakia
  • Florian Pennings, Cyber Security Policy Manager at Microsoft Brussels, Belgium
  • Rasťo Kužel, MEMO 98 (specialist media monitoring organization), Slovakia
  • Katarina Kertysova, Non-Resident Fellow at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) (tbc)

12.30 – 13.30     Lunch break

13.30 – 15.00    Panel 3: Discussion of COMPACT findings: Overview of regulatory initiatives and suggestions in Europe and beyond in the area of “Information disorder and social harms”

Chair: COMPACT partner

Speakers:

  • Dr. Lukasz Porwol, Deputy leader at eGovernment Unit, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, NUI Galway, Ireland
  • Dr. Tanja Pavleska, Laboratory for Open Systems and Networks, Jozef Stefan Institute, Slovenia
  • Igor Danis, School of Communication and Media, Slovakia
  • Dr. Andrej Skolkay, School of Communication and Media, Slovakia
  • Oles Kulchytskyy, Agency of European Innovations, Ukraine

15.00 – 15.15     Coffee break

15.15 – 16.30     Panel 4: Role of social media platforms: How can data reliant platforms act responsibly?

Chair: Dr. Tanja Pavleska, Laboratory for Open Systems and Networks, Jozef Stefan Institute, Slovenia

  • Elisabetta Biasin, Legal Researcher, KU Leuven Centre for IT & IP Law – imec, Belgium
  • Paolo Celot – Founding Member and Secretary General, EAVI – Media Literacy for Citizenship
  • Thomas Carette, Independent Data Scientist & Organiser of Data Science Brussels Meetups, Belgium
  • Annika Linck, EU Project Manager, European DIGITAL SME Alliance

16.30 – 17.00    Wrap up & lessons learnt: Do we need harmonised European electoral laws? Do we need an agency for democracy?

Conference Materials: