Disinformation Roundup: News from the International Forum

As the information space continues to be contested among democratic and authoritarian actors, the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies is pleased to share some of our recent content related to disinformation and other threats to the integrity of the information space. For more on this topic and others within the International Forum’s work, please visit our website as well as the Power 3.0 blog and its related podcast.



In “Containing COVID-19 Disinformation,” International Forum program officer Dean Jackson interviews three experts about how COVID-19 has accelerated disinformation challenges that undermine the integrity of the information space. These interviews also address how public officials, civil society actors, and technology platforms can facilitate more effective communication of facts in an increasingly crowded information environment. Featured guests include Vladimir Rouvinski, associate professor of political science at Icesi University in Colombia; Renee DiResta, research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory; and Will Moy, founder and CEO of Full-Fact, an independent fact-checking charity based in the United Kingdom. Christopher Walker, NED vice president for studies and analysis, hosts the conversation.

For more on this topic, read the International Forum’s Global Insights essay collection, “COVID-19 and the Information Space: Boosting the Response.”



As the disinformation challenge has evolved, so has the landscape for civil society organizations (CSOs) combatting its impact on democracy. To gain a better sense of the digital information landscape, Dean Jackson of the International Forum spoke with Lisa-Maria Neudert, a doctoral candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute and a core researcher at the Computational Propaganda Project regarding a recent Forum working paper entitled “The Road Ahead: Mapping Civil Society Responses to Disinformation.” In the report, Lisa-Maria Neudert and Samantha Bradshaw analyzed the challenges CSOs face in this complex and fast-changing field—and how funders and democracy support organizations can better support their future growth.


Power 3.0 Blog | How to Help Civil Society’s Disinformation Researchers Flourish

As civil society works to counter disinformation’s threats to democracy, multistakeholder collaboration is needed to boost the response. The Forum’s Rachelle Faust and Daniel Cebul published a Power 3.0 Blog post entitled “How to Help Civil Society’s Disinformation Researchers Flourish,” which offers recommendations to enhance civil society responses to protect the integrity of the information space. Their analysis builds off of a recent working paper from Samantha Bradshaw and Lisa-Maria Neudert, entitled “Mapping Civil Society Responses to Disinformation.”

The authors offer several recommendations to strengthen civil society responses, including building an inclusive dialogue between stakeholders and removing information siloes, gaining access to transparent and meaningful data while respecting user privacy, and providing financial and operational support to critical efforts—especially in understudied fields.


Power 3.0 Blog | Democracy and the Next Big App: Three Questions for Assessing Risk

As governments evaluate risks associated with the global internet, including the proliferation of authoritarian influence operations, a lack of universal, clear, and equitable standards hinders the navigation of the digital information landscape.

In “Democracy and the Next Big App: Three Questions for Assessing Risk,” Dean Jackson and Rachelle Faust of the International Forum consider how to moderate content without infringing upon free expression, best practices for secure data collection, and ways in which companies can combat state-generated disinformation. The authors argue that rules-based, rights-conscious approaches are necessary to curtail risks from social media applications.


Report | “COVID-19 and the Information Space: Boosting the Response

The International Forum launched the first series of essays in the “Global Insights” series, featuring analysis on “COVID-19 and the Information Space.” This report is the first of a publication series that spans issues including the protection and security of the information space and current efforts to combat transnational kleptocracy. The essays in this series are the product of workshops held by the International Forum during the spring and summer of 2020.

These workshops—which gathered civil society representatives, journalists, academics, researchers, donor organizations, and policymakers—aimed to assess the likely challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic would pose to the democratic health and integrity of the information space. The analyses presented in these essays also address the global character of these challenges examining cases in Europe, North and South America, as well as Africa.


Report | “The Road Ahead: Mapping Civil Society Responses to Disinformation” | Samantha Bradshaw and Lisa-Maria Neudert

Disinformation has flourished in recent years, but, fortunately, so has the number and scale of civil society organizations addressing this challenge. However, little is known about the focus, geographic distribution, failures, and successes of these organizations. In a report, entitled “The Road Ahead: Mapping Civil Society Responses to Disinformation,” Samantha Bradshaw and Lisa-Maria Neudert analyze how civil society organizations (CSOs) play a central role in addressing disinformation’s growing impact on democracy.

Established efforts to combat disinformation have incorporated the new challenges posed by social media into their agendas, while new initiatives have emerged to fill gaps in research, monitoring, and advocacy. The work of these organizations in the disinformation fight is critical for shaping effective policy measures, improving platform responses, and enhancing citizen knowledge and engagement. The authors provide several recommendations to enhance responses to disinformation, including increasing data access and boosting collaboration among CSOs.


We are sad to announce the departure of Dean Jackson from the International Forum in mid-June. Dean has spent the last 8 and a half years creating the information space portfolio at the Forum and expanding the Forum’s unparalleled network and unique research agenda on countering disinformation challenges. Dean will join the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Partnership for Countering Influence Operations. We will miss you, Dean, but we look forward to your continued contributions to this field!