Media Landscapes and Disinformation in the V4 - Visegrad Insight

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Media Landscapes and Disinformation in the V4 - Visegrad Insight

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The Buzz
The Ballot

                                                                                  ISSN 2084-8250

Media Landscapes and Disinformation in the V4
                                                                                9 772084 825077
Media Landscapes and Disinformation in the V4 - Visegrad Insight
7 December 2017

Conference organizers:
                         T H O U G H T   P R O V O K I N G

Conference partners:
Media Landscapes and Disinformation in the V4 - Visegrad Insight
Media Landscapes and Disinformation in the V4 - Visegrad Insight
2 (11) | 2017
                                                                circulation:   6,000
                                                             frequency:   twice a year


                                                   Wojciech Przybylski (Res Publica, PL)
                                                          twitter: @wprzybylski
                                                            director of operations

                                                  Magda Jakubowska (Res Publica, PL)
                                                         + 48 694 40 19 80

                                                      Galan Dall (Res Publica, USA)
                                                             online content editor

                                                   Gabriela Rogowska (Res Publica, PL)
                                                               senior associate

                                                   Marcin Zaborowski (Res Publica, PL)
                                                        twitter: @MaZaborowski

                                                      Anna Wójcik (Res Publica, PL)
                                                          twitter: @annawojcik
                                                            economy section editor

                                                   Martin Ehl (Hospodářské noviny, CZ)
                                                         twitter: @MartinCZV4EU
                                                            intelligent mind editors

                                                            Éva Karádi (HU)
                                                          Marta Šimečková (SK)
                                                                 books editor

                                                           Julia Sherwood (SK)
                                                             contributing editors

                                                             Juraj Čorba (SK)
                                                         Katarína Kucbelová (SK)
                                                           Marek Sečkař (CZ)
                                                          Sophie Shevchuk (UA)
                                                           Máté Zombory (HU)
                                                                graphic design

                                                                 Published by
                                             Fundacja Res Publica im. H. Krzeczkowskiego
                         Gałczyńskiego 5, 00-362 Warsaw, Poland 0048 22 826 05 66,
                                                             Orders and inquiries:

                                                        Cover by Paweł Kuczyński

 Visegrad Insight is an analysis and opinion journal led by accomplished editors from the Visegrad Group countries: the Czech Republic,
 Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Its aim is to provide a platform for high profile debate on the perspectives and challenges for cooperation
                   of the Central European governments, business and communities. Published by Res Publica, Poland.

                                                                    T h o u g h T   p r o v o k i n g

2                                                                                                      VISEGRAD INSIGHT 2 (11) | 2017
Media Landscapes and Disinformation in the V4 - Visegrad Insight

                                            The buzz
                                            around the ballot
                                            Every period in history has its jokes including the Post-truth era. This one has been

                                            told following the occupation of Crimea: if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and
                                            denies it’s a duck, it’s a Russian duck. In truth, our duck does not quack – it tweets!

                                            The acronym of the Russian IRA stands today for a new kind of terrorist organisation
                                            – the Internet Research Agency (AKA the troll factory) whose operations were recent-
                                            ly revealed in relation to the electoral campaign in the USA.

                                            What makes the Russian fake-news campaign so successful? It appears that the con-
                                            temporary masters of lies the IRA are able to considerably influence the global demo-
                                            cratic process. Is it due to their strength or more due to our weakness?

                                            The latter explanation makes more sense. During the recent digital revolution – a
                                            rapid process that had a vast impact on our societies, we let hostile scouts take over
                                            part of our domestic electoral agenda.

                                            This autumn, Twitter’s self-audit revealed that nearly half of the American population
                                            has been exposed to this Russian campaign of hate and fake-news. The goal, apparent-
                                            ly, was not only to have Donald Trump elected but to polarise the American society.
                                            The IRA sponsored both radicalism of the right and of the left. But why was it possible
                                            in the first place?

                                            Two particular developments revived this mass scale disinformation. First – the 2008
              WOJCIECH PRZYBYLSKI           financial crisis that struck down traditional media all across the world, and second
                                            – the rapid growth of social media. Capitalism and the internet, neither one a Russian
                                            invention, quickly became the new weapons of the information age.

        THE SWIFT GROWTH OF SOCIAL          Central Europe, in many ways, has become more exposed than the USA or other EU
        MEDIA TOOK REVENUE FROM TRA-        partners. The swift growth of social media took revenue from traditional media outlets
        DITIONAL MEDIA OUTLETS AND EX-      and exposed societies to pure political propaganda. Editorial oversight, often referred
        POSED SOCIETIES TO PURE POLITICAL   to as gatekeeping, no longer safeguards social media followers and friends from direct
        PROPAGANDA                          exposure to divisive practices. As a reaction, Facebook introduced its own editorial
                                            oversight that was revealed earlier this year, but it might not have been soon enough
                                            for countries that had already been heavily exposed.

                                            As we show, compared to Germany, in 2017 more people in the V4 (+10%) prefer and
                                            have trust in so-called “alternative media” than in mainstream outlets. Trust in main-
                                            stream media is further undermined by poor business models that are not catching
                                            up with the quickly growing digital advertising market.

                                            In the Post-truth era, the fourth estate of democracy, counting social media in, has
                                            become a challenge to democracy. To build up democratic, resilience let’s start with
                                            resilience of quality media.

Media Landscapes and Disinformation in the V4 - Visegrad Insight

6     urvey – The Impact of the Internet on
     Media and Politics Szabolcs Töhötöm
     Tóth, Karel Kovář, Zuzanna Ziomecka,
     Tomáš Bella, Eric Maurice
   House Undivided – How pro-Putin
   ideologues have united both the
   far-right and the far-left in their
   unwavering support of the Kremlin’s
   geopolitical agenda Péter Krekó,
                                                                                    interview with
   Lóránt Győri
                                                                               Robert Pszczel from
13    ire and Brimstone – Deception and
     F                                                                             the NATO HQ
     Dread in Central Europe Galan Dall

                                                                                                           Illustration: Paweł Kuczyński
   From Tweets to Tanks – interview

   with Robert Pszczel from the NATO

ECONOMY                                                                             PAGE
   Report: Media Consumption Trends –
   in cooperation with weCAN network
20   The Vulnerable V4 Miriam Lexmann          WHAT ARE MEDIA
POPULISM & POWER                               TRENDS IN V4
24   T he Cassandra Curse Danuta
26   T he Czech Elections and the Future
      of Media Independence Václav Štĕtka
28   The New Enemy Zselyke Csaky
   The Shadow over media Michał

34   J ournalism’s Growing Pains in
      Visegrad Beata Balogová
38   Making lemonade Zosia Wasik
   The Pitfalls of Censoring Fake News
   Barbora Bukovska in conversation
   with Aleksandra Eriksson
43   Imbalance and Glass Ceilings
      Greta Gober
   Gender Equality in CEE Media,
   Helena Chmielewska-Szlajfer

   The State of Cyber Security in the V4
   Botond Feledy
   June 2017 Cyber Attack in Ukraine
   Michael Chertoff, former Secretary

   of Homeland Security
   How vulnerable is the Polish Cyber
   World to Attacks Tomasz Matuła
4                                                              VISEGRAD INSIGHT 2 (11) | 2017
Media Landscapes and Disinformation in the V4 - Visegrad Insight


The Hurdles Ahead
                                                      EU ON THE EDGE
                                                      55   T remors in Europe’s
                                                              The Report  Card Foundation

for Central Europe
      AHEAD FOR                                             Roland Freudenstein

                                                      V4 ABROAD
Iveta Radičová                                        FUTURE OF EU
                                                      59   T he End of Convergence Cornelius
                                                            Ochmann, Wojciech Przybylski
                                                         The Different Faces of Visegrad
                                                         Kai-Olaf Lang
                                                      61   T he Hurdles Ahead for Central Europe
                                                            Iveta Radičová
                                                         Germany and Central Europe
                                                         Michal Kořan
                                                         The Euro, Always on the Central
                                                         European Edit Inotai
                                                      70    dditional Conditions

                                                           Zoltán Kovács, Secretary of State of
                                                           Hungary, on the adoption of the euro
                                                           in Hungary
                                          PAGE        71    urozone membership – the Facts,
                                                           the Game, and the Debate – flash
                                                           report by Visegrad Insight

                                                      72   The Parisian Mirror Milan Nič
                                                      75    ho Will Be Served at the Table
                                                           and Who Will Be Served for Dinner,
                                          PAGE             Edit Zgut
                                                         The Small Steps of Europe Paweł
                                                         Kowal, former deputy Minister of
                                                         Foreign Affairs
  Rastislav Káčer                                     82	
                                                         What German Elections mean for
                                                         Central Europe Marcin Zaborowski

                                                      INTELLIGENT MIND
                                                      84    on’t Merchandise Doubt Rastislav


                                                      FICTION WE LOVE
                                                      89   In Literature Julia Sherwood
                                                      90	Emöke Szabó Lovas
                                                      92	Magdalena Mullek
                                                      93	Anna Zaranko
                                                      94	Michal Jareš

          Julia Sherwood, Emöke Szabó Lovas,
      Magdalena Mullek, Anna Zaranko, Michal Jareš
Media Landscapes and Disinformation in the V4 - Visegrad Insight

                              We have asked five
                              internet savvy editors
                              about the buzz around
                              the ballot. What was
                              the impact of the internet
                              on media and politics
SURVEY                        in recent years?

6                                       VISEGRAD INSIGHT 2 (11) | 2017
Media Landscapes and Disinformation in the V4 - Visegrad Insight

Editor-in-Chief of Magyar Nemzet (Hungarian nation), a Hungar-
ian daily founded by Sándor Pethő in 1938. He is also project
leader for the online development of the newspaper.

             ith Donald Trump rising to power, the debate on               To make things worse for those Hungarian news outlets
             fake news has engulfed editorial pages, prompt-        that still try to resist this surge, the government has become
             ed hosts of news stories and provoked myriads          one of the biggest advertisers in the media market. In fact,
             of twitter posts all over Europe and in the United     according to the CANnual Report 2017 (see pages 18–19 in
States. Less attention has been paid though to another dan-         this issue), the Prime Minister’s Office was the second biggest
gerous phenomenon. One that I would call the “fake media”.          advertiser in Hungary in 2016, following the German telecom-
      In Hungary, the government has managed to create one          munication giant Telekom.
so successfully that newspapers, television stations and online            Of course, this advertisement money goes to friend-
news sites belonging to its propaganda machine now threaten         ly media companies. To add more insult to injury, there is a
to suffocate the real thing: those who still try to maintain ed-    widespread perception that private companies are under pres-
itorial independence and work with the traditional watchdog         sure by the Hungarian government not to place ads in news
approach to those in power.                                         outlets that are perceived as enemies by Fidesz, Hungary’s
      In the last three or four years, through friendly business-   ruling party.
men and thinly veiled direct funding, the Hungarian govern-                This brutal interference has resulted in an extremely dis-
ment has channeled hundreds of billions of forints into buying      torted media market, where independent players are bound
existing media companies and creating new ones. Now, it ef-         to compete with a thinly-veiled state-run media conglomerate
fectively controls (through its cronies) one of the two over-       that is awash with public and (scared) private money in an
the-air commercial television channels (Tv2), two national          economic system that is more and more controlled and bullied
newspapers (Magyar Idők and Magyar Hírlap), a free daily            by the state.
distributed on mass transit lines (Lokál), two national tabloid            Meanwhile, market trends that have hit media compa-
daily newspapers (Ripost and Bors), the biggest Hungarian on-       nies hard in other countries of Europe are of course present
line news site (Origo), a television news channel (Echo TV), a      in Hungary as well. The decline of print ad revenue coupled
news radio channel (Karc FM), all of the regional daily news-       with the growing amount of money that Google and Facebook
papers (!) and their associated online news sites, and an addi-     is diverting from these companies are huge problems for
tional two, relatively new, online news sites (Pesti Srácok and     Hungarian media companies.
888) – besides weekly newspapers and several smaller scale                 Thus, under these circumstances, the Hungarian govern-
news operations on the internet.                                    ment does not have to curb press freedom to silence dissent:
      While acquiring all these riches, in 2016 it managed to       all it has to do is to create competitors to private companies
buy and shut down the leftist Népszabadság, one of Hungary’s        that are already under siege by market forces, in order to cre-
flagship daily national newspapers.                                 ate fake media that tries to behave like the real one. Except for
      Of course, the government is also served by the whole         its main goal is not to hold the government accountable, but to
public media, which has practically been enslaved and re-           assist it, not to expose propaganda, but to spread it, and not to
duced to a propaganda machine on steroids, including the            unveil the truth but to hide it in an artificially created noise.
state-run news agency, multiple television channels, radio
stations and an online news site. All financed with taxpayer
money, of course.

Media Landscapes and Disinformation in the V4 - Visegrad Insight

                                                                                  ZUZANNA ZIOMECKA
                                                                   Editor-in-Chief of A media maker driven by
                                                                   the conviction that diversity and inclusion are the best way for-
                                                                   ward for our VUCA world. She uses media and journalism to cre-
                                                                   ate leadership interventions into issues that she feels deeply
                                                                   about. A woman, a mother, a European, a practitioner and pro-
                                                                   moter of mindfulness, and a great admirer of pirates.

                                                                          he internet has eliminated the barrier of entry into me-
                                                                          dia. In these days of intense social media penetration,
                                                                          everyone is a commentator and politicians no longer
                                                                          need the media to get through to their constituencies. A
                                                                   major challenge in this situation is that advertisers, the bread
                                                                   and butter of the media business, also no longer need the me-
                                                                   dia to reach audiences. This puts media in a position it has
                                                                   never been in before – we now have to prove our utility to both
                                                                   the public and the consumer goods industry.
                     KAREL KOVÁŘ                                         A clear trend in this search for a new “reason to be” is the
One of the most popular Czech video bloggers who introduced        emergence of fact checking as a media format. Instimojer, a
political themes to Czech video blogging cementing his status      fact checking NGO in Bosnia and Herzegovina is an example
by being one of three to interview President Juncker. In 2016,     of a stand-alone institution dedicated to checking claims and
he received the Blogger of the Year award. Forbes has identified   promises made by local authorities. A story recently released
him as the 17th most influential Czech on social networks in       on Instinomjer gives an inside look at how Bosnian politicians
2016 and listed him as one of the 30 most talented Czechs          make use of loose regulations to put up their own online news
aged under 30. He was also listed as a New Europe 100 chal-        sources that launch smear campaigns against political rivals.
lenger by Res Publica, Google, Financial Times and the Visegrad    Another example is Gazeta Wyborcza’s SONAR – a big data
Fund in 2017.                                                      start-up also created to track local politicians.

     t is brutal I would say. News especially. Basically, every-
     body is dealing with something I call information mad-
     ness nowadays. Sometimes it´s very hard to tell what´s
     the truth and what´s just a fake story. People are mostly
confused not knowing what to trust anymore, which creates
instability and distrust. That is extremely convenient for big
powers (especially Russia), which want to see the EU divided
and unstable. There is enough evidence that Russia itself is
helping to create this kind of situation through hacking and
paid “news outlets” which have been successful in spreading
an epidemic of fake news stories. Feeling that the EU does not
care enough, Visegrad is moving closer to the so-called strong
leadership idea and basic values like free independent media
or parliamentary democracy are being threatened.

8                                                                                        VISEGRAD INSIGHT 2 (11) | 2017

                                                                                         ERIC MAURICE
                                                                    Editor-in-Chief of EUobserver. Before joining the Brussels-based
                                                                    news website, he was editor-in-chief of Presseurop, a pan-Euro-
                                                                    pean and multilingual media project. A graduate from the Par-
                                                                    is-Sorbonne University in history of international relations and
                                                                    the Paris École Supérieure de journalisme, he started his ca-
                                                                    reer at the French weekly Courrier International, where he suc-
                                                                    cessively was in charge of the French, US and Western Europe

                                                                          t is not an original thing to say, but the internet has ac-
                                                                          celerated the pace of news because everyone now – in-
                                                                          cluding journalists – expect articles on any event to come
                                                                          online very quickly, as if they were just an extension of
                                                                    tweets and news alerts.
                                                                           That tendency is intensified by the fact that the internet
                                                                    has also extended the competition – traditional media, pure
                                                                    players, news agencies (which traditionally were only provid-
                     TOMÁŠ BELLA                                    ers for news organisations, not directly to the public) are at the
Co-founder and head of online at Dennik N, independent Slo-         same level but with their own characteristics and pace.
vak daily newspaper. Daily “N” was founded in 2015 by former               To follow that pace, you have to try to publish different
members of the editorial team of SME daily. Previously, he was      kinds of news – breaking, factual or analytical. In these realms,
the editor-in-chief at and CEO at Piano, a company pro-      the biggest publishers have an advantage.
ducing paid-content software for publishers. Nominated as a                On EU politics, the impact – seen from a more cyni-
New Europe 100 challenger for introducing the ground-breaking       cal perspective – is that the institutions, and mainly the EU
technology of a pay-wall for media content by Res Publica, Goog-    Commission, use this environment to better control the
le, Financial Times and the Visegrad Fund.                          information.
                                                                           They know that we journalists have to work quickly, and

                                                                    often they give us documents at the last minute, just before a
       he internet, especially in smaller countries, allows poli-   commissioner comes to make an announcement. Then we have
       ticians to cut out the (media) middle man, which can be      only their point of view if we want to write our article quickly.
       used for both good and evil. Some politicians enter into            Politicians – and I include commissioners, MEPs, more
       honest public discussions with their voters which allows     than just EU national leaders – also communicate more
citizens to get direct answers from them and better informa-        through social media by sharing articles and reports they
tion about their attitudes than through media (or billboards).      like, or in which they are quoted, or even opinion pieces they
      On the other hand, the internet made it very easy for         wrote (and which are mainly written in order to be shared on
extremists to communicate directly with potential voters,           social media).
something that used to be much harder through the filter of                EU officials and politicians know that journalists in
traditional media.                                                  Brussels spend all their days on Twitter. So that’s how they
      In the end, I believe the effect will be positive but, as     share their speeches, react to events, deny news, try to spread
with any other new medium, people will need to go through           their spin. From that point of view, Twitter has become a
years of slowly learning how to use the medium and how to           quasi-official means of communication, much more than
recognize and avoid its potential traps.                            Facebook.


A House
How pro-Putin ideologues have united
both the far-right and the far-left in their
unwavering support of the Kremlin’s
geopolitical agenda

                                                                                                                                      Illustration: Paweł Kuczyński

                                               PÉTER KREKÓ AND LÓRÁNT GYŐRI

                    little more than a year    mostly older pensioners burnt out by the     the works of the leading neo-Eurasian
                    ago, a limited circle of   Trianon trauma and some youths sport-        ideologist Alexander Dugin.
                    fans gathered in a small   ing discreet Hitler-Jugend haircuts, all           The sympathy of Ms. Őry to the
                    far-right bookstore lo-    of them ready to hear the author, Daniel     pro-Kremlin emigre circle of far-right ac-
                    cated underground of       Friberg, speak about the immigrant situ-     tivists residing in Budapest is not surpris-
                    one of the most prom-      ation in Europe.                             ing. She is the Head of the Foreign Desk
                    inent plazas in Buda-           A journalist, Mariann Őry was also      at the right-wing Magyar Hírlap news-
                    pest to welcome the        among the crowd and even introduced          paper – owned by a pro-Fidesz oligarch
new book of the European “alt-right” (in       Mr. Friberg as a regular economist in her    – that openly promotes an anti-immigra-
fact: Nazis in suits) titled “The Real Right   journal. The author is in fact an ex-Swed-   tion, illiberal, misogynistic and homo-
Returns: A Handbook for the True Op-           ish neo-Nazi turned CEO of the Arktos        phobic agenda, resonating governmental
position”. The audience was composed of        group, the main European publisher of        messages.
10                                                                                          VISEGRAD INSIGHT 2 (11) | 2017

       Where this story gets interesting is      portrays him (as well as Putin) as a Saint   ANTI-FASCISTS IN ARMS IN V4
that Őry is in fact the daughter of Gyula        George who fights against the dragon of      COUNTRIES: HUNGARY, CZECHIA
Thürmer, the Chairman of the Hungarian           Islamic terrorism.                           AND POLAND
Workers’ Party (HWP) – a successor of                   The second important point is that    Of course, after four decades of state
the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party           converging anti-establishment, anti-EU       socialism, the post-communist block is
(MSZMP), the only political remnant              and anti-NATO narratives on the radi-        not the stronghold of the radical left any-
of hardcore, orthodox communism.                 cal left and radical right often manifest    more. The general fate of Central-Eastern
She used to be on the political board            themselves in cooperation. One such          European far-left parties is that they fade
of the party, when her father turned it          example involves the “nationalist radical    away, unable to modernize themselves,
into a pro-Russian family-business after         leftist portal” called Bal-rad. This web-    losing their old voters while having diffi-
2010. She also enthusiastically reported         page, pushing several pro-Russian arti-      culties to attract the new urban, educat-
about her father’s press conferences on          cles embedded in a bizarre combination       ed electorate that the green parties reach
Syria, Crimea and other foreign policy           of radical left-nationalist and anti-glo-    out to. Instead, these parties keep living
issues – in all of these cases, presenting       balist narratives was sponsored by Lukoil    as communist spectres of the Soviet past.
standpoints totally compatible with the          – despite their being an utterly marginal           The only relevant political force in
Kremlin’s. Thürmer, for example, ap-             site and, therefore, having zero PR value.   the region is in Czechia. The Communist
peared bizarrely enthusiastic after the          Then, not-so-surprisingly, it moved to a     Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM)
annexation of Crimea by Russia –                 Russian server in April 2017.                received 15% of the vote in 2013, but has
       “If Albanians have the right in                  Here, we can see again the manifes-   declined to 8% by 2017. Over the years,
Kosovo for self-determination, Russians          tation of a global phenomenon on a local     they have been able to maintain a close
have the same right in Crimea. (…) We            level: the ideological convergence of the    relationship with the Russian Communist
should rather cherish that the borders           fringes is at the same time spontaneous      Party – after the Soviet Union fell apart –
of the second world war are not carved           and facilitated. Russia, a natural ally of   which is, these days, a pseudo-opposition
in stone. We should not feel sorrow over         fringe movements in their fight against      party with a strong nationalist and even
Trianon, (…) Europe would be much bet-           the global establishment, is trying to       nostalgically imperialist agenda.
ter off by re-drawing the map according          make the most out of this anti-Western              While having seen better days, the
to the will of the people.”                      coalition.                                   leader of the Russian communist party,
       Gyula Thürmer’s son, Gyula Máté                  Another important instance in-        Zyuganov, received almost 30% of the
T. is also politically active: he used to be a   volved the Hungarian communist par-          vote in the presidential elections in 2000
candidate for the Hungarian Communist            ty which cooperated with the now             when Putin was first elected as president.
party, and he is right now also the column-      dissolved neo-Nazi Hungarian National        In the latest Duma elections, they were
ist of pro-governmental newspapers such          Front (MNA). This party became no-           still the strongest opposition party with
as Magyar Hírlap and Pesti Srácok that           torious for its leader shooting down a       more than 13% of the vote, and Russian
are also pushing an authoritarian, illiberal,    policeman in late 2016. He also conduct-     communists keep an important role in
xenophobic agenda and tons of fake news.         ed “airsoft drills” with members of the      keeping the old comrade networks alive.
                                                 Russian military service, the GRU (dis-             However, the Russian communists
WHERE ALL RADICALS                               guised as Russian diplomats accredited       are not the only force reaching out to the
CONVERGE                                         in Hungary). Surprisingly enough, it ac-     radical left in Europe. While the Kremlin-
Two important conclusions can be drawn           knowledged the Workers’ party as a gen-      driven disinformation campaigns are fre-
from this seemingly marginal and par-            uine representation of the “Hungarians’      quently described as strongly ideological,
ticular case. First of all, an increasing        real interest.” While the Hungarian com-     in fact, they are totally opportunistic,
overlap between the narratives of the rad-       munists are, originally, known for their     aiming to reach different audiences via
ical left and the radical right, especially      notorious and militant anti-fascism,         various channels. In 2016, the Russian
when it comes to foreign policy issues in        Thürmer’s party protested together in        Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, for ex-
which Russia is involved. They usually           social matters with the neo-Nazis, and       ample, published an English article in
come to the same conclusion on different         the MNA published ideological articles       the Russian Global Affairs (the “Russian
logical routes; while the radical right, for     promoting the “formation of a workers’       Foreign Affairs magazine”), which explic-
example, like to refer to Putin as the last      state” on Hungarian communist websites.      itly targets left-wing intellectuals and pol-
real Christian, conservative leader in Eu-              After the annexation of Crimea,       iticians in the West with quotations from
rope and celebrate his attempts to dom-          both far-right and far-left “independent     George Orwell, and statements to the ef-
inate this sphere of influence, the radical      European observers” went to legitimize       fect that Western European welfare states
left in Europe – from Syriza through to          the illegal secession referendum, in March   just copied the Soviet Union’s success.
the Czech Communists and Die Linke to            2014. Despite the fact that the Hungarian           After the Maidan revolution, the
the Dutch Socialists and Podemos – re-           Workers’ Party was unable or unwilling       Kremlin launched the single biggest dis-
fer to the maintaining of peace, neutrality      to send an envoy, the Communist Party        information campaign in the last decade
and self-determination when justifying,          of Greece (KKE), the German Die Linke,       about a Western initiated “Fascist coup”
for example, the Crimean annexation.             the Polish Democratic Left Alliance          in Kiev. This message resonated well with
When talking about Syria, the radical            and Mateusz Piskorski, the founder of        both the fellow Ukrainian Communist
left tend to see Assad as an eternal com-        the leftist-national Zmiana party, did       parties, Russian compatriots evoking the
rade fighter against the imperialists; the       so along with scores of far-right party      “Great Patriotic War” fought by Stalin,
radical right, in a similarly positive light,    representatives.                             and European left-wing parties and in-

tellectuals. Three years after the war          ness” with CIS-EMO in the post-Soviet
against Ukraine unleashed by Russia, the        space, aiming at legitimising Kremlin-
KSČM still warns of the “open Western           backed regimes, breakaway regions and
aggression against Russia,” and the emer-       referenda. In 2015, the politician found-
gence of “fascist, and Nazi forces”. KSČM       ed Poland’s first and only openly and
organized the first “Current Fascism in         blatantly pro-Russian leftist party called
Europe” workshop in 2014 on Russian             Zmiana (Change). At the same time,
foreign policy in the Czech Parliament          he was pushing the “Ukraine is fascist”
in cooperation with the Institute of            narrative as a “geopolitical expert” on
Slavic Strategic Studies (ISSS) founded in      Sputnik and Russia Today. Piskorski was
Prague in 2013. Again, we can obviously         arrested by the Polish authorities in May
see the joint far-right far-left platform.      2016 allegedly on charges of espionage
The latest pro-Russian discussion titled        for Russia and China. Shortly after, the
“Myths about Russia” was held by the            “Laundromat scandal” proved that the
far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy          European Centre of Geopolitical Analysis
party together with the ISSS in 2016 in         (ECAG) led by Piskorski was – using
the Czech Parliament.                           money coming from Russia.
       In Poland, obviously pro-Russian
voices are usually more silent and more         TACTICALLY BLIND,
marginal. Still, beside the far-right, we can   DEAF AND MUTE
find strong proponents of Russia on the         While Zmiana is rather an extreme case,
left as well. A member of the post-Com-         the Polish Democratic Left Alliance’s be-
munist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD),          haviour sums up the far-left’s paradoxical
Adam Krzysztof Kępiński, for example,           connection with Moscow. Leftist parties,
participated as an election observer at         even in the centre, are usually much less
the 2014 “referendum” on the secession          blatant about their support for the Krem-
of Crimea. Leszek Miller, the party’s for-      lin as compared to their far-right coun-
mer chairman and former PM of Poland,           terparts. Most European leftist parties
has frequently criticised politicians of        rarely praise Putin or his regime openly.
being too harsh towards Russia and has          They call for “neutrality”, “peace” and the
called for a friendlier relationship with       “stopping of western aggression” instead.
their eastern neighbour.                        The majority of European far-left parties
       In 2014, Miller called the Russian       showcase a double-edged strategy of rhe-
aggression a “fratricidal war” in Eastern-      torical self-containment and the denial
Ukraine, blaming the Right Sector for the       of pro-Putinism with an almost uncon-
crisis without mentioning Russia’s role in      ditional support of the Kremlin’s core
the war. In an interview given to Sputni,       geopolitical goals. While the far-right
the former PM later criticised the Polish       is rather vocal in its ideological pro-Pu-
authorities for not letting the pro-Putin       tinism, the left is deaf and blind to the
“Night Wolves” motorcycle gang through          perceived human rights violations and
“honouring the fight against the Fascist        imperial ambitions of Russia, and mute
Germany,” and for “Russophobia becom-           when talking about these issues. But they
ing the official foreign policy doctrine” of    lose their inhibition when it comes to
Poland. Twice the presidential candidate        criticising the West – especially the US,
of the SLD, Magdalena Ogórek, advocated         the EU and NATO for aggression and
for a stronger partnership with Russia, try-    provoking conflicts.
ing to put it as the European mainstream:
“The world needs Russia to fight terror-        Péter Krekó is the director of the Political Capital
ism. Angela Merkel and Franocis Hollande        Institute, a Budapest-based Central European
are conducting very balanced talks with         political research and consultancy firm.
Russia and I am so proud of this.”
       The infamous and aforemen-               Lóránt Győri is a geopolitical analyst at Political
tioned, Mateusz Piskorski, a well-known         Capital.
pro-Russian political figure in Poland,
personally embodies the pro-Putin coali-
tion of the radical left and right. Piskorski
started his career around extremist or-
ganizations and later became an MP of
the far-right Self-Defence of the Republic
of Poland in 2005. Later he became one
of the organizers of the “election busi-
12                                                                                                    VISEGRAD INSIGHT 2 (11) | 2017

The Proliferation of Deception
and Dread in Central Europe

                                 Disinformation campaigns
                                  in the US are growing in
                                    sophistication, and many
                                     across the Atlantic are
                                      learning the same tricks


                                                             GALAN DALL

                 or most of us who don’t       everyday skill we have all had to quickly       TRANSLATING THE PARANOIA
                 block or unfollow those       adopt. Just as we were getting hold of this     The above is hardly surprising consider-
                 with differing political      fake news debacle, we have reached the          ing all the recent tactics used to influence
                 opinions, our daily news-     next stage of this propaganda strategy:         elections in Western Europe as well as the
                 feeds are constantly being    judgment before publishing.                     US, but the question at hand is if the same
                 bombarded with spuri-               To see this plan in action, we can        occurrence is happening in post-commu-
                 ous stories of politicians    look back to last June when the western         nist societies?
                 from across the spectrum      media world was caught in eager anticipa-             The situation in Central Europe is
engaged in a smorgasbord of conspiracies.      tion of Megyn Kelly’s NBC interview with        trickier to diagnose because many far-
The strategy is to overwhelm the reader,       Alex Jones, the founder of Info Wars (if        right, nationalistic parties are currently in
and the public at large, with as many arti-    ever a show name was more appropriate           power and, a crucial difference from the
cles as possible on similar topics, so that    for someone intent on disrupting coherent       US, they also control many of the main-
the sheer number of pieces will convince       narratives and espousing, often violent,        stream media outlets.
people that there must be something            solutions to conspiracies so far-fetched              A recent report by Robert Gorwa
truthful in them, after all where there’s      they crossed over into the farcical realm       for the Oxford Internet Institute found
smoke…there’s more smoke. The pur-             long ago). The content of the interview         that there has been a considerable in-
pose is either to undermine established        was of less importance, as the ratings did      crease in the use of political bots, trolling
and reputable journalistic sources (many       indicate, than the perception of its “fair-     and fake accounts to amplify the propa-
of which are producing a large number of       ness” (if you tend towards conservative         gation of fake news throughout Poland.
credible, though controversial, articles) or   beliefs) or if it was “hard-hitting” enough     What is more interesting is that, while the
to obfuscate the situation until no one is     (if you are more liberal leaning).              consequences of these operations can be
certain of what is real.                             Apart from her previous journalistic      extensive, the actual number of people dis-
      Take, for example, the early hours       sins and signs of bias, the critical response   tributing this disinformation is incredibly
following the horrific Las Vegas shooting      was that Kelly did a good job holding Jones     small. Perhaps the critics worried about
where 59 people died and over 500 were         accountable for some of his more outland-       giving Alex Jones a bigger microphone
injured by a sole-gunman. Clearly nervous      ish comments like when he claimed that          were correct in their consternations.
about a public cry for background checks       the Sandy Hook massacre – where 26                    A similar situation is playing out in
and/or the implementation of meaningful        people, mostly children, were killed by a       neighbouring Czechia. There, a few small
gun legislation, alt-right and some right-     gunman at a primary school – was staged         but popular sites of unknown ownership
wing news agencies flooded both Google         by actors. Some though were wary of giv-        are peddling pro-Putin and anti-American
and Facebook with fabricated stories that      ing Jones a larger audience to promote his      material while spreading fear about immi-
the gunman was a “liberal Democrat”            ideas which can aid in the spreading of dis-    grants, refugees and Islam in general. But
who despised Donald Trump. It took only        trust and discontent in society.                what has been the effect of these websites
hours to disprove this fallacy because the           Jones himself used the days before        and yellow journalism on the Central
Las Vegas Police Department had not            the interview to stoke the flames of his        European public?
released any information on the mass           “theory” that he will never be treated                According to GLOBSEC, two-
murderer, but during that time, enough         well by mainstream media, echoing one           thirds of Poland’s population do not be-
articles had swamped the streams of those      of Trump’s favourite excuses of “misrep-        lieve the media is presenting an accurate
so keen to believe that gun violence isn’t     resentation”; Trump himself has been a          representation of reality. This can be
caused by guns that the rest of the story      fan of Jones’ show, enough so to even call      mostly attributed to the same methods
was drowned out.                               in and voice his support. Needless to say,      mentioned above, a barrage of stories each
      In today’s world, where there will       most on the internet had already decided        corroborating each other, but none worth
be support for any sound or dubious po-        the interview’s value days before its airing,   their weight in salt, yet many also attrib-
sition wished to be held, discerning what      and this was the intended outcome, to           ute this to government control of many of
information is trustworthy has become an       skew minds.                                     the main media outlets. The situation has

14                                                                                             VISEGRAD INSIGHT 2 (11) | 2017

                                                                                                  The situation in Central
                                                                                                  Europe is trickier to
                                                                                                  diagnose because many
                                                                                                  right-wing, nationalistic
                                                                                                  parties are currently
                                                                                                  in power and, a crucial
gotten severe enough for the Czech gov-          for proponents of tolerance; however, to
                                                                                                  difference from the US,
ernment to set up a task force to combat         those in his community (much like the            they also control many
these disinformation campaigns.                  Jones interview above), his removal from
      This is a laudable step in the right di-   the UK is a feather in his cap; a true patriot   of the mainstream media
rection, but as polls closed in late October,    and Christian oppressed by “liberals” and
Andrej Babiš – the populist leader of the        in his words “Jewish agents with British
ANO party who has been on numerous               passports” (original in Polish: ”żydowscy
occasions compared to Donald Trump               agenci z brytyjskimi paszportami”) .
(businessman-turned-politician) – is set                For people like Jones, Międlar, and
to become the next Prime Minister of             even the current president of the US, re-
Czechia.                                         porting factually what they have said is
      On the surface, there is nothing           an act of misrepresentation worthy of
wrong with a successful magnate turning          retaliation.
to politics. However, his unique ace in the             This past September saw the un-
hole is control over the Mafra media group       veiling of some of the disinformation
which includes the number two newspa-            campaigns used in the past year when
per (second only to the tabloid Blesk) and       Facebook and Twitter released a trove of
number three internet news portal in the         accounts – mostly run by Russian bots –
region. What will happen if the task force       which actively promoted Donald Trump
above finds issue with something associat-       for president. Instead of acting responsibly
ed with the likely future Prime Minister’s       and attempting to secure the democracy
business handlings? A rather obvious po-         he now leads by acknowledging these elec-
tential conflict of interest is around the       toral assaults, Trump decided to exacer-
corner, and if there’s anything Czechia          bate the situation by attacking Facebook
can learn from America, it is that potential     itself and the media outlets that covered
threats become dangerous realities from          the story.
one day to the next.                                    As the fourth estate is far more en-
                                                 trenched in the US and Western Europe,
THE WOLF PLAYING SHEPHERD                        worries about these attacks on journal-
But who is the Alex Jones of Central Eu-         ists and of deceitful reporting taking over
rope? Here we can look to Poland and             without any oversight is less worrisome
the suspended-priest Jacek Międlar. He           than in places like Central Europe where
has given many anti-Semitic and Islam-           censorship was an unfortunate and unde-
ophobic speeches and is popular with             sirable but accepted way of life for many
right-wing groups on both his blog and           years. How easy it would be for it to return
Twitter account. Previously this year, as        in the name of providing safety and secu-
the Guardian reported, Międlar was held          rity from the “tormenting evils” of open
and refused entry into Britain on at least       society.
two instances, in both cases he was to
speak at far-right rallies.                      The author is a journalist and editor based in
      Międlar’s use of venom-filled rhet-        Warsaw, Poland.
oric on his blog, Twitter and Facebook
page as well as his proclivity for inciting
prejudice seemed to justify the authori-
ties denying him entry in an apparent win


             FROM TWEETS
                TO TANKS

                                               About NATO’s complex approach
                                                     to information challenges.

Are Poland and Central Europe taking             What strategy does NATO have concern-          does not answer disinformation or prop-
part in informational warfare?                   ing this hybrid warfare?                       aganda with its own propaganda or dis-
If we take into consideration the coun-          This is a very broad topic. Since 2014,        information. We aim to present facts and
tries which are members of NATO, then            NATO has developed and initiated a hy-         our arguments in a dynamic way, using
they do not participate in any kind of war.      brid strategy to deal with such threats.       diverse platforms and tools. We do it
It is true however that the security envi-       It encompasses many elements ranging           via interaction with traditional media,
ronment has changed significantly over           from a better coordination of intelligence     but also through the internet and social
the last few years, and therefore so has         products, work on resilience of our insti-     media – see for example our “Setting the
the context and terms we are using to de-        tutions and infrastructure, incorporating      Record Straight” portal. But we also try
scribe it. The elements of hybrid war like       hybrid scenarios in our exercises, as well     to correct many “false facts or fake news”
disinformation, cyber-attacks – these are        as cooperation with partner countries          which target NATO and individual Allies
not abstract terms, but very real threats        and the European Union.                        – by engaging with journalists, opinion
and challenges. These tools are not used               NATO has 29 member states united         formers and ordinary people.
by the NATO states foffensive purposes,          by a collective defence pledge, forming a            In the NATO family, there are many
but such actions or elements can be at-          stable, permanent coalition that primari-      so called Centres of Excellence, and two
tributed to the Russian Federation or the        ly looks after the security of its members.    with the highest public profiles are those
Islamic State.                                         Moving to the issue of your main in-     which deal respectively with cyber secu-
       One such operation was the                terest, information policy as a dimension      rity and with Strategic Communications.
Crimean occupation in 2014 where we              of our response to hybrid challenges, as is    Both institutions help NATO and mem-
could see – for the first time in modern         the case with other aspects, the first stage   ber states by undertaking research,
history – the “little green men” being em-       of our approach is analysis and situational    running courses and workshops – real
ployed on a large scale. We all know who         awareness.                                     educational work.
they were and what they did, so let’s not              Comparing to where we were a few               This long-term effort does not hap-
forget that their first acts involved taking     years ago, our awareness of, for example,      pen solely within NATO borders. The
over and occupying local media centres.          how social media are used for aggressive       fact that Sweden, a non-NATO country,
There was also a disinformation cam-             aims of disinformation has improved a          has already trained thousands of its civil
paign, and a military exercise seemingly         great deal. NATO’s situation awareness is      servants on how to deal with the problem
used as a decoy which preceded the op-           an essential starting point because if we      of disinformation shows that the threat
eration in Crimea. So, the answer from           lack the tools to identify the problem, it     has an international character. People
the Allied side is no, we do not engage in       is hard to devise optimum countermeas-         who work in specific spheres are likely
information warfare, but if we talk about        ures against it.                               to face certain kinds of disinformation
the negative and aggressive actions in the             The second question is what can be       attacks, and if they are made aware of
informational sphere, then there is plenty       done in a particular situation. We, first of   this then they will know how to react and
of evidence to suggest that others may see       all, need to stick to our mandate and our      would hopefully share their knowledge
it differently.                                  principles. This means simply that NATO        among their communities.
16                                                                                              VISEGRAD INSIGHT 2 (11) | 2017

       One paradoxical advantage we            ing next to the EU’s Federica Mogherini,                   Does Poland at all need to be ready to
have in NATO is that we have been the          described hybrid threats as “a combination                 react and resist such kind of threats?
target of disinformation for many years,       of covert and overt operations and meas-                   What is the priority action for Poland?
only the methods have changed some-            ures: everything from propaganda, from                     On the one side, the Polish society is very
what. Recognizing this, NATO’s Public          disinformation to actually the use of regular              resistant towards any misinformation
Diplomacy Division (PDD) and other             forces – from tweets to tanks.”                            campaigns directed by foreign countries.
NATO representatives and experts are                 Returning to the challenges posed                    It is not easy to persuade Poles in believ-
very active in organising and participating    by Russia, it is interesting to compare our                ing something which is not true as they
in a variety of seminars and conferences,      agendas and thus approaches. For NATO                      have a high level of awareness following
debating both cyber and disinformation         a “comprehensive approach” is a concept                    years of communist propaganda. On the
threats (which often go together). These       which aims to ensure synergy of different                  other hand, there is no state, including
topics also come up high on the list of        kinds of resources – civilian, military and                Poland, which can ignore fully well fi-
issues discussed with parliamentarians         Strategic Communications – in order to as-                 nanced disinformation operations, some
from all member states. This last point        sure stability. To illustrate: for many years              of them devised on individual basis and
is crucial if we are to contribute to long-    now, we have been working in order to sta-                 targeting specific recipients.
term solutions, such as for example me-        bilise Afghanistan. We know that ensuring                         One hears of plans of the Polish
dia literacy projects.                         security is an essential task. Without secu-               MOD to create a centre to deal with cyber
       International cooperation is essen-     rity there can be no development. But sta-                 threats. This certainly sounds like a very
tial. It is not a coincidence that among the   ble institutions, rule of law, support of the              good idea, a route taken by other allies too.
42 areas which were collectively defined       local population and economic prospects                    But one should also take into account that
as priorities for joint work by the EU and     are in turn factors without which long-term                potential opponents are always improving
NATO, one of the first agreed items was        security will not be guaranteed.                           their methods, and they are not stingy
disinformation.                                      Unfortunately one gets an impres-                    with resources, so our approach should be
       Recently, there was the ceremonial      sion that from the Russian perspective, a                  a comprehensive one, using a mixture of
opening of the Helsinki Centre of Excellence   hybrid approach applied in many regions                    military and civilian capabilities and insti-
for Countering Hybrid Threats. While es-       in Europe and beyond is serving a very                     tutions, at both the state and local level.
tablished under the EU aegis, this Centre      different purpose which has more to do                            A good example of work in this do-
has close links to NATO. The Secretary         with destabilisation. For example, we are                  main was a conference (co-sponsored by
General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, stand-      well aware that 2/3 of negative online                     PDD) on hybrid threats hosted in Szczecin
                                               comments on social media about NATO’s                      in October. It brought together represent-
                                               enhanced Forward Presence (bringing                        atives from the Polish parliament, aca-
                                               many Allied troops to the Baltic States                    demia, the military, business and media.
                                               and Poland) are generated by Russian                       There were a lot of presentations and dis-
                                               online accounts operated by bots. And                      cussions on policies, best practices from
                                               these comments have nothing to do with                     divergent experiences: ranging from crisis
                                               the real debate, with transparency and                     management systems at a city level to air-
                                               the truth: they aim to denigrate, under-                   port security. But participants could also
                                               mine our governments, distract soldiers                    take part in a specialised workshop where
                                               and destabilise the region.                                business expertise was shared on practical
                                                                                                          solutions to improving security of cyber
                                                                                                          space, e.g. on protection from hackers’ at-
                                                                                                          tacks – which is badly needed today.
                                                                                                                 Not only NATO and the EU should
                                                                                                          act but also on more local levels there
                                                                                                          should be coordinated actions. This is a very
                                                                                                          long-term process when it comes to such
                                                                                                          measures as raising awareness of citizens of
                                                                                                          dangers of hybrid threats and disinforma-
                                                                                                          tion, as teaching university students, im-
                                                                                                          proving resilience of critical infrastructure
                                                                                                          or honing the role of military forces. There
                                                                                                          are many good experts in Poland and their
                                                                                                          expertise should be fully utilised. But other
                                                                          Illustration: Paweł Kuczyński

                                                                                                          states, including those among the Visegrad
                                                                                                          Four, have a lot of very useful experience, be
                                                                                                          it on the government level or non-govern-
                                                                                                          mental organisations. So, it is very impor-
                                                                                                          tant to share our knowledge, our experience
                                                                                                          and available tools among states, organisa-
                                                                                                          tions and ordinary citizens.



 Advertisement market                                      The following data was provided by the weCAN network and compiled from
                                                           three CANNUAL reports, the most recent of which was released in October
  already knows which                                      2017. The network was formed by strong and successful independent
                                                           agencies of Central and Eastern Europe. Created in 2010 by the Hungarian
media are followed and                                     full service agency Café Communications, weCAN covers 16 countries from
        generate value                                     Estonia to Bulgaria and from Slovenia to Russia.

3 takeaways                                                Set your revenue strategy around digital advertising.
                                                  1        This sector is rapidly growing and has a potential to
from the CANNUAL
                                                           be a larger part of the economy than in Germany and
report for V4
                                                           many other EU countries.
publishers and
editors:                                                   Content marketing is more important than simple ads.
                                                 2         The digital sector is booming in V4 and has generated
                                                           a high demand for digital content.

                                                 3         You have 3 seconds to go mobile. The biggest growth in
                                                           the digital sector is in the area of mobile devices. In this
                                                           medium, the attention span is dramatically short though

weCAN ranking 2017
It attempts to estimate the economic importance of their advertising market. Selected countries.

              HUMAN                                     GDP PER                           COUNTRY AD SPENDING                              weCAN
         DEVELOPMENT INDEX                            CAPITA INDEX                            PER CAPITA                                  RANKING
               CZ — 0.878                               CZ — 16,700                                CZ — 119                               CZ — 0.71%

               PL — 0.855                               SK — 14,900                                HU — 59                                PL — 0.52%

               SK — 0.845                               HU — 11,500                                SK — 59                                HU — 0.52%

               HU — 0.836                               PL — 11,000                                PL — 58                                SK — 0.39%

               RO — 0.802                               RO — 8,600                                 RO — 17                                RO — 0.18%

                                                                                                                                         USA — 1.09%
weCAN Ranking – a new tool for understanding prospects for advertising marked in CEE
                                                                                                                                          UK — 0.99%
The weCAN ranking is an index that shows the percentage of the ad spending per capita within a country’s nominal GDP.
We calculated both baseline data (GDP per capita and ad spending per capita) using the number of population older                         DE — 0.62%
than 14 to ensure that the basis of the calculation only includes advertising target groups with independent purchasing
power. The WeCAN ranking reveals whether the advertising market as an economic sector is stronger or weaker than
what the overall economic performance of a country would suggest.                                                          source: Cannual 2017 Report

18                                                                                                               VISEGRAD INSIGHT 2 (11) | 2017

Trends in advertising pie
in Visegrad Countries
Share of advertising budgets for different type of media
Note: Hungarian numbers are unexpectedly high with advertisement campaigns 2014–2016,

                                                                         2014                   2015                            2016

                                          TV                             29%                       29%                          31%

                                        Digital                          47%                       48%                          45%
                                        Press                            13%                       13%                          15%
                                        Radio                             5%                         4%                          4%

                                          TV                             31%                       31%                          30%

                                        Digital                          30%                       33%                          37%
                                        Press                            21%                       19%                          17%
                                        Radio                             6%                         5%                          5%

                                          TV                             47%                       44%                          43%

                                        Digital                          31%                       35%                          38%
                                        Press                             9%                         8%                         6%
                                        Radio                             7%                         7%                         7%

                                          TV                             46%                       44%                          41%

                                        Digital                          28%                       32%                          39%
                                        Press                            13%                       12%                          9%
                                        Radio                             5%                         5%                         4%

Internet penetration in the region online & ad spending per capita (EUR)

40.000                                                                                                                                        90%
35.000                  75%                        78%                                 74%    74%                                             80%
            34,29               73%      69%                                    69%
                                                                     66%                                                 67%           67%
30.000                                                                                                    62%    62%                          70%

25.000                                                                                                                                        60%

20.000                                                                                                                                        50%

15.000                  15,89   15,68                                                                                                         40%
10.000                                             11,26    11,23
 5.000                                                                          5,21                                                          10%
                                                                                       4,16   3,97
                                                                                                          3,33   2,97    2,66          2,28
     0                                                                                                                                        0%
               CZ        PL      HU       SK        SL       EE      RU         LV      LI    HR          BG     RO      RS            UKR

   Online ad spending/capita                      Internet penetration



                       More Vulnerable to Disinformation
                                   than You Might Think

                                  MIRIAM LEXMANN

There’s no shortage of Russian “fake                         ublic opinion data is crucial to understand-
                                                             ing how and why disinformation is gaining
news” stories, “troll factories” and                         ground.
                                                                   A recent series of public opinion
“disinformation” across the media,                           surveys by the International Republican
yet the understanding of how this                            Institute (IRI) of the Visegrad Four (V4)
                                                             countries and Germany revealed fascinating
affects populations in Europe remains                        insights into areas of vulnerability and resil-
                                           ience to Russian disinformation. The polls were commissioned
relatively unsophisticated.                by IRI’s Beacon Project, an initiative that equips European
It’s clear that there’s a problem, but     stakeholders with the tools to counter Russian meddling and
                                           protect European democracy from the corrosive effects of
less clear what can be done about it.      disinformation.
20                                                               VISEGRAD INSIGHT 2 (11) | 2017

Correlation between trust in media
and perceptions
Correlation       on the
             between     state
                      trust in of the country,
outlook  on the future  MEDIA
and perceptions on the state of the country,
(using       track
         on the    / wrong track as a proxy).
(using right track / wrong track as a proxy).
Correlation  between38%
HUNGARY: Overall
                            in media
and perceptions on the state of the country,
outlook   Overall   38% 50%
            the future
(using right track / wrong track as a proxy).
Among those who think media is unbiased 42% 48%
Among those who think media is unbiased 42% 48%
HUNGARY: Overall    38% 50%
Among those who think media is biased   20% 64%
Among those who think media is biased   20% 64%
Among those who think media is unbiased 42% 48%
SLOVAKIA: Overall   40% 59%
SLOVAKIA: Overall   40% 59%
Among those who think media is biased   20% 64%
Among those who think media is unbiased 49% 51%
Among those who think media is unbiased 49% 51%   Those who think media is unbiased
SLOVAKIA: Overall   40% 59%                       Those
                                                  V4    who think
                                                               33%media is unbiased
Among those who think media is biased   28% 72%   Germany
                                                  V4               33%44%
Among those who think media is biased   28% 72%   Germany              44%
Among those who think media is unbiased 49% 51%   Those who get most of their news from
CZECH: Overall   53% 45%                          state broadcasters
                                                  Those who
                                                         who think media
                                                             get most     is unbiased
                                                                      of their news from
CZECH: Overall   53% 45%                          state broadcasters
                                                  V4             33%
Among those who think media is biased   28% 72%   Germany
                                                  Germany       57%33%
Among those who think media is unbiased 59% 40%   Germany       57%
Among those who think media is unbiased 59% 40%   Those
                                                  Those who
                                                         who get
                                                              get most
                                                                  most of
                                                                       of their
                                                                          their news
                                                                                news from
CZECH: Overall   53% 45%                          from
                                                  state online sources
                                                  Those who get most of their news
Among those who think media is biased   37% 59%   from
                                                  V4    online sources
Among those who think media is biased   37% 59%   Germany
                                                  V4            57%     23% 11%
Among those who think media is unbiased 59% 40%   Germany                    11%
POLAND: Overall    31% 58%                        Those who read  or watch
                                                             get most       “alternative”
                                                                       of their news      media
                                                  from    Every
                                                       online   Day or Occasionally
POLAND: Overall    31% 58%                        Those who read or watch “alternative” media
Among those who think media is biased   37% 59%   sources
                                                  V4      Every Day
                                                                 31% or Occasionally
                                                  Germany             31%     14%
Among those who think media is unbiased 50% 37%
                                                  Germany                     14%
Among those who think media is unbiased 50% 37%
POLAND: Overall    31% 58%                        Those
                                                  Those who
                                                         who Never
                                                              read orread or watch
                                                                      watch  “alternative” media
                                                  sources  Everymedia
                                                                      or Occasionally
Among those who think media is biased   16% 78%   Those who   Never       or watch
                                                  V4         50%media
Among those who think media is biased   16% 78%
                                                  Germany 75%
                                                  V4        50%               14%
Among those who think media is unbiased 50% 37%
                                                  Germany 75%
GERMANY: Overall     42% 54%
                                                  Those who
                                                         who read
                                                              Never“alternative”  media & say they
                                                                      read or watch
GERMANY: Overall     42% 54%                      do so because  it is “fun and exciting”
                                                  Those         media
                                                         who read   “alternative” media & say they
Among those who think media is biased   16% 78%
                                                  V4 so because
                                                  V4         50% it
                                                                 25% is “fun and exciting”
Among those who think media is unbiased 47% 51%
                                                  Germany 75%         25%    16%
Among those who think media is unbiased 47% 51%
                                                  Germany                    16%
GERMANY: Overall     42% 54%
                                                  Those who read “alternative” media & say they
Among those who think media is biased   33% 61%
                                                  do so because it is “fun and exciting”
Among those who think media is biased   33% 61%   source: The Center for Insights in Survey Research (a
                                                  project              25%
                                                          of International Republican Institute), Ipsos
Among those who think media is unbiased 47% 51%
                                                  Germany offices in the Czech16%
                                                                               Republic, Hungary, Poland,
                                                  Slovakia and Germany, 2017.
                                                  Face-to-face interviews, samples: 1,016 in the Czech
Among those who think media is biased   33% 61%   Republic; 1,024 in Slovakia; 1,000 in Hungary; 1,020
                                                  in Poland; 1,630 in Germany

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