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Friday, October 11, 2019

Is the Brexit Party in denial on Russian disinformation?

To be honest, nothing about the Brexit Party surprises me anymore, bur it does seem as if they are no longer even trying to win over the majority of the UK electorate who failed to vote for them in May's European Elections.

It isn't that I believe they can convince people who have never supported them that their view on Brexit is the correct one. That would be absurd, they are completely bonkers when it comes to championing UK interests at home or abroad. It is just that, on other issues, they might make the effort every now and again to make us sit up and think that their voting decisions do occasionally recognise reality.

So yesterday, here we were again, with Nigel Farage and his fellow Brexit MEPs voting against stronger EU measures aimed at countering “highly dangerous” Russian disinformation. It begs the question, are they in favour of more Russian disinformation? Or is it that they don't believe in evidence-based policies? Okay, scrap that last question, I think we already knew the answer to that.

As the Guardian reports, Farage and co. cast their votes against a European parliament resolution calling for an upgrade of the EU’s anti-propaganda unit East StratCom, as well as support for public service media:

In the resolution, MEPs also criticised Facebook, accusing the social media company of not following up on most of the parliament’s demands to prevent a repeat of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where at least 87 million people had their data harvested without permission for use in targeted advertising campaigns in the 2016 US presidential election.

While the resolution is non-binding, it heightens pressure on the incoming leaders of the European commission and European council to keep a focus on countries seeking to meddle in elections and the operations of social media companies.

The text expressed “deep concern over the highly dangerous nature of Russian propaganda” and called on EU institutions to set a strategy to counter Russian disinformation.

East StratCom was set up on a shoestring budget in 2015 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea forced a rethink of relations with the Kremlin in Brussels, Paris and Berlin.

Its staff and funding have since been increased, but the unit has faced criticism for a handful of decisions – later reversed – to describe satirical or contrarian articles as “fake news”.

The party which embraces fake news as part of its raison d'etre, voted against enhanced measures to protect our democratic processes. No, I really am not surprised at all.
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