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EU elections mostly safe from foreign interference online - Meta report

Facebook has not seen a rise in EU election disinformation.
Facebook has not seen a rise in EU election disinformation. Copyright Sean Kilpatrick/AP2009
Copyright Sean Kilpatrick/AP2009
By Cynthia Kroet
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There have been attempts to influence local votes instead, the report added.


Malicious attempts to influence users on Meta’s platforms mostly focussed on local rather than the upcoming EU elections, a threat report published by Meta today (29 May) suggests.

“While we’ve seen public discourse ahead of the EU parliamentary elections focus primarily on foreign threats, the majority of the EU-focused inauthentic behaviour we’ve disrupted so far has been domestic in nature,” the mid-year update into the global threat landscape, said.

Most of the attempts to spread fake news were made at citizens in member state and were linked to individuals associated with local campaigns or candidates. Some of the tactics used included inauthentic amplification of accounts or pages of domestic politicians through likes, shares and comments to make them appear more popular than they were. However, Meta – which owns Facebook and Instagram – did not see any evidence that these clusters were gaining traction among users.

“On the foreign threats side, the attempts we’ve seen so far were primarily focused on undermining support for Ukraine among the EU member states, rather than directly targeting the EU parliamentary elections,” David Agranovich, director of global threat disruption at Meta said at a press briefing. In addition, Meta did not see any proof of new generative AI tools getting more traction.

The report also looked into a long running covert influence operation from Russia, known as Doppelganger, which involves a large network of websites spoofing legitimate news outlets, and seems to have scaled down its impact significantly.

Meta noticed a major shift in this operation’s tactics on its platform after two companies in Russia who were linked to the operation were sanctioned by the EU in 2023 and by the US Treasury Department in 2024.

“There is a major shift in tactics, they no longer link to spoof websites and don't comment links on other posts anymore," Agranovich said. 

EU elections

Ahead of the EU elections, Meta announced in February, that it is to set up an EU-specific 'operations centre' to combat misinformation. Under the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), online platforms with more than 45 million monthly average users, including Facebook and TikTok, are obliged to take measures against disinformation and election manipulation.

Meta’s centre will bring together in-house experts to identify potential threats and put specific mitigations in place across apps and technologies in real time, according to a statement by the company's head of EU affairs, Marco Pancini.

In a Euronews analysis published yesterday on election spending, Meta, owner of social media network Facebook, sees most spending on ads by far-right parties from Hungary and Belgium.

They’re followed by German liberals the FDP – whose post on the EU’s Erasmus+ education programme has gained over one million views – and Italy’s centre-right Forza Italia.

EU rules agreed in February forbid pre-election spending from abroad, and in principle campaign ads shouldn’t be targeted based on political views – though even the European Commission has apparently fallen foul of those strictures in its own social media promotions.

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