European Commission sees Slovak elections as a test of resistance to Russian interference

European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourova believes that the Slovak elections to be held this weekend will be a test of the vulnerability of public opinion in European countries to online disinformation.

She said this on Tuesday, Politico reports.

Věra Jourova, who is the European Commission’s chief digital affairs official, said the Slovak elections will be a test of how vulnerable public opinion in the backdrop of the election is to the “multi-million euro weapon of mass manipulation” that Moscow is using to influence the outcome of future votes.

Slovakia’s parliamentary elections will be held this Saturday, 30 September. The populist and pro-Russian Smer-SD party, led by former prime minister Robert Fico, is leading in the polls, albeit with slightly less support than before.

Jourova believes that the results of the vote will be indicative because “the approach to Russia or Ukraine is a divisive line.”

Věra Jourova also sees serious risks in the fact that Moscow will try to influence the opinion of ordinary Europeans before the European Parliament elections to be held in June 2024. “The Russian State has engaged in the war of ideas to pollute our information space with half-truths and lies to create a false image that democracy is no better than autocracy,” she said.

Earlier in September, European Commission officials and the Slovak media regulator held a series of meetings in Bratislava with the participation of many media companies, including social networks, and noted the need to do more to combat online disinformation campaigns.

Jourova said Slovakia provides “favourable ground” for Russian narratives that the Kremlin uses to justify its war against Ukraine. She said Facebook promised to increase the number of fact-checkers for the Slovakian segment of the social network and it has already done so.

On Tuesday, the Commission published a detailed report on how Facebook, YouTube and TikTok countered misinformation in 2023. Among other things, the companies were asked to provide information on how political ads are monitored, stop monetising content with false information and cooperate with fact-checkers.

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