Join GMF and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies on Wednesday, November 15 for a discussion on the transatlantic alliance amid political uncertainty in the United States and Russian aggression, featuring ASD Co-Managing Director Rachael Dean Wilson and others. Register here!
Join ASD, the Embassies of the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic to the United States, Friends of Slovakia, the American Friends of the Czech Republic, and the Transatlantic Democracy Working Group for this year’s Freedom Lecture on the importance of free and fair elections on Friday, November 17. Register here!
Russia, China, and Iran have used their state media accounts to capitalize on the Israel-Hamas war and position themselves against the West. Read ASD experts’ findings and analysis from the updated Hamilton 2.0 dashboard here.
Instead of helping to debunk falsified information, X (formerly Twitter)’s community notes feature enables malicious users to present disinformation about Hamas atrocities against Israelis as authoritative fact-checking, Research Analyst Nathan Kohlenberg argues in Haaretz.
The recently announced Alabama Voter Integrity Database aims to improve the state’s voter rolls. However, there are still questions over its functionality, cost, and ability to better preserve privacy than the interstate organization it left in the first place, Senior Fellow David Levine writes in the Fulcrum.
Russian diplomats and state media focused on three main narratives this week:
- Israel-Hamas: Russian state-affiliated media accounts continued to push divisive narratives around the Israel-Hamas war that framed Israel as the aggressor, boosting a video claiming that violence in Gaza “triggers happiness” for Israeli soldiers and amplifying news about an Israeli minister who was suspended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after saying dropping an atomic bomb on Gaza was an option. On Facebook, Russian propagandists amplified Iran’s statement that the United States is “militarily involved” in the conflict.
- Ukraine: Last week, state-backed media reported on the alleged rift between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, asserting that the two men are at odds because “the situation on the battlefield is at a dead end”. On Facebook, RT en Español quoted former US President Donald Trump’s claim that US media is avoiding coverage of the Russo-Ukrainian War because “things are going wrong” for the United States. Russian officials and state media are also linking the war in Ukraine to the war in the Middle East. “Middle East” was the fourth most mentioned term in monitored Russian posts mentioning Ukraine, with many of the top posts promoting Vladimir Putin’s claim that Ukrainian corruption is helping to funnel weapons to terrorists in the Middle East.
- Sanctions: Last week, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov shrugged off the West’s oil and gas embargoes and financial restrictions and assured that Russia had “adapted” and was no longer “scared” of further measures. Russian-backed media echoed these sentiments and claimed that sanctions are more detrimental to the EU, resulting in losses of up to $1.5 trillion. RT used memes on Facebook to poke fun at a recent report that found “over 100 British companies admit violating Russia sanctions”.
Chinese diplomats and state media focused on three main narratives this week:
- Israel-Hamas: Last week, Palestine and Israel were the third and fourth most mentioned countries, behind China and the United States, in content produced by China’s diplomatic and state media accounts across all platforms monitored on Hamilton 2.0. Consistent with findings from ASD’s recent piece analyzing the past month of Chinese messaging on the conflict, there was a significant rhetorical shift between the dry diplomatic statements from the MFA on Instagram and state media posts on Facebook, and the far more hyperbolic and confrontational anti-Western content from both state media and diplomats on X.
- Cuba: On Facebook, YouTube, and several state-backed websites, Chinese state media outlets highlighted the UN General Assembly vote asking for an end to the economic sanctions on Cuba to demonstrate the United States’ isolation on the global stage. On X, diplomatic accounts in Bolivia, France, the Philippines, Tanzania, and the United States followed Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying in relaying the 187-2 result that saw the United States and Israel outvoted by the rest of the UN.
- Open for business: Chinese accounts on all monitored platforms have vigorously promoted the latest iteration of the China International Import Expo (CIIE), frequently featuring Western business and political leaders’ endorsement of stronger ties with China. The promotion of CIIE dovetails with messaging around the country’s leading role as the “engine” of global economic growth.
France facing “omnipresent” foreign interference threats, parliamentary report says: The French Parliamentary Delegation for Intelligence warned in a new report that foreign interference in France and Europe has become a “protean, omnipresent, and lasting” threat and called for a united European response to counter interference from the most prominent perpetrators, namely Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran. Research Analyst Etienne Soula said, “French decision-makers need to do more to address foreign authoritarian interference in their country’s democratic institutions. The second largest party in the country has had one of its presidential campaigns partly bankrolled by a Russian institution and a former prime minister was on the boards of two Russian state-controlled companies when Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine. And those examples are only the tip of the iceberg. The more robust measures put forward by the parliamentarians report, such as the creation of new criminal offenses and stricter registration requirements for foreign agents, are as urgent as necessary.”
Meta to require political ads to disclose AI-generated content: In preparation for the 2024 US presidential election, Meta announced that it will require advertisers to disclose whether their political advertisements contain any content—images, audio, or video—that has been altered by artificial intelligence; in a new poll, 78% of adults in the United States said that political advertisements that use AI-generated content should disclose how it was used. Senior Fellow Lindsay Gorman said, “This is an important step for transparency in the AI age and should become the industry standard. The genie is out of the bottle on generative AI in politics, with candidates experimenting left and right in the United States and around the world. The best we can do now is ruthlessly enforce transparency requirements.”
Moldova bans candidates from Russian-financed party 36 hours before local election: Moldovan authorities withdrew all candidates from the Chance party from the ballot 36 hours before last Sunday’s local elections for allegedly using Russian money in their campaign. The decision “lacked legal remedy” and “limited voters’ choice” in several races, according to election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Senior Fellow David Levine told the Dispatch, “Moldova found itself ‘between a rock and a hard place’ as its November 5, 2023 elections drew closer. Allowing foreign election interference efforts to go unanswered could have resulted in election results swayed by illicit means and a foreign adversary. Banning candidates for the Moldovan political party that served as the primary conduit for foreign influence efforts risked being perceived as anti-democratic. Moldova chose the latter, which was arguably the least bad option, but if it hopes to successfully achieve EU membership and ensure trust in future elections, it will likely need to do a better job of balancing national security concerns with international obligations and democratic standards for its elections going forward.”
In Case You Missed It
- Accounts linked to an online Russian disinformation campaign boosted news that 250 Stars of David were painted on buildings across Paris; a pro-Russian Moldovan businessman is under investigation for allegedly ordering four suspects to paint them to stoke tensions in the country.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that it is irresponsible to hold any of the county’s elections—including the presidential race—that were scheduled to be held in 2024 amid its ongoing war with Russia.
- As part of its latest enlargement report, the European Commission endorsed opening accession negotiations with Ukraine once Kyiv approves remaining conditions on anti-corruption and minority rights.
- YouTube plans to test new generative AI features for paid subscribers, including tools that answer questions about the site’s content and summarize comment sections.
- The United States sanctioned more than 100 companies and individuals from China, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates for continuing to trade goods with military applications to Russia.
- The US Department of State identified a Russian disinformation campaign aiming to decrease support for Ukraine and NATO in Latin America using proxy websites run by “influence-for-hire” firms.
How Russian falsehoods spread to U.S. through faux local news. Investigative Data and Research Analyst Peter Benzoni presented at Politifact’s United Facts of America
How Russian falsehoods spread to the US through faux local news. Investigative Data and Research Analyst Peter Benzoni quoted in Poynter
Twitter’s Community Notes Accelerates Denialism About Hamas Atrocities Against Israelis. Research Analyst Nathan Kohlenberg’s op-ed reposted in QOSHE
“Every science fiction movie actually is the same. People create a machine that thinks for itself, the machine decides to enslave or extinguish humanity. Humanity fights back and wins by turning the machine off. So, let’s create an on-off switch.”
—Microsoft President Brad Smith told the Wall Street Journal on November 3.