The Institute for Global Analytics organized a counter-disinformation training, which took place on 10 March 2023 in Sofia and online. The event aimed at the development of collaborative engagement among key stakeholders for tackling disinformation as well as providing comprehensive solutions to the challenges of informational operations. A wide array of participants attended, including representatives of the diplomatic corps, the Bulgarian government, European Commission and civil society organizations.
The training consisted of 6 main sessions, each led by an expert in the field and moderated by Dr. Rumena Filipova. Jakub Kalensky, Senior Analyst at the Hybrid Centre of Excellence in Helsinki, presented an innovative counter disinformation defense framework termed a four-lines approach, which highlighted the importance of targeted outreach to different audiences, drew out the pros and cons of existing measures for countering disinformation and stressed the need for action for punishing information aggressors.
Katarina Klingova, Senior Research Fellow of the Centre for Democracy & Resilience at GLOBSEC, presented the main dimensions of building effective strategic communications, including key definitions, actors, strategies, messages and target audiences of strat com. She presented examples of best practices from Estonia, the UK, Sweden.
Eto Buziashvili, research associate for the Caucasus at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, zoomed in on combatting Russia and Chinese disinformation by showcasing online analysis tools for gathering user engagement trends on Telegram, detecting coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook, data archiving. She further discussed the advantages of open source data and how to use it for effective analysis.
Dmitri Teperik, Chief Executive of the International Centre for Defence and Security in Estonia, presented on how to build cognitive and societal resilience against disinformation by sharing the Estonian experience. He disaggregated the key components for studying resilience and drew on practical examples from Estonia among which the conduct of Psychological Defence Courses; Senior Courses in National Defence; National Defence Course at schools; the creation of a youth Resilience League.
Mina Kirkova, editor at Deutsche Welle Bulgaria and an expert with factcheck.bg, focused the session on creating effective crisis communications and countering disinformation quickly and efficiently before it has reached a large audience after a critical event. She cited examples related to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria; the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines; the Russian invasion of Ukraine; the COVID-19 pandemic to illustrate the speed and techniques through which propaganda is disseminated following large-scale developments.
Ruslan Trad, fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, addressed the question of how to counter wartime propaganda, which becomes part of everyday life. He singled out in particular Russian disinformation’s aim to create impressions about a given event/actor (rather than achieve fully-fledged alignment with Russian positions among audiences) and the falsification of history. He highlighted the asymmetry of resources between the Russian propagandist machine and those tasked with countering falsehoods.