IGF 2022 Town Hall #91 The war in Ukraine and the disinformation war

Tuesday, 29th November, 2022 (12:00 UTC) - Tuesday, 29th November, 2022 (13:00 UTC)
Banquet Hall A

Round Table - U-shape - 60 Min


The war in Ukraine has been a life-size laboratory in many fields. In testing new weapons, in testing new combat techniques, in testing the efficiency of international treaties to protect civilian during an armed conflict, but also on cyberwars techniques used beside and in parallel to the conflict in the field. It's true that many civilians remained victims of the conflict in the war zones, but truth and trust have been under attack all over the world. Because the cyber-conflict has no boundaries or limits other than the global internet. How to monitor, how to tackle these kind of attacks, without losing the democratic principles, it's the main endeavor for modern democracies. The session want to report about what has been in Europe all along these months to protect the society, without renouncing to the respect of Human Rights principles.

A moderator will be on site, while all speakers will intervene from remote. A dedicated remote moderator will take care of those not on the venue participants. presentation will be originated from the IGF venue to reduce at minimum risk of delays of disruption of the lines. All speakers will be connected from remote.



EDMO is the European Commission created body to monitor and fight misinformation and hate speech on line. It's funded by EU money and is based in Florence, Italy, at the European University Institute.


Eurovisioni is the annual conference taking place in Italy to discuss about changing media environment and on the impact of digitalization of media on the shaping of public opinion.

  • Krisztina Stump, European Commission
  • Paula Gori, European University Institute and EDMO
  • Claire Wardle, Brown University
  • Tommaso Canetta, Pagella Politica and EDMO
  • Adam Maternik, Demagog
  • Francesco Sciacchitano, AGCOM Italy and ERGA (European Audiovisual Regulatory group)
Onsite Moderator

moderator Giacomo Mazzone (WEOG) Civil society

Online Moderator

Roberto Zambrana CIVIL SOCIETY - Latin America


Erik Lambert - Eurovisioni


16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Targets: 1st priority: SDG 16 Pease, justice and strong institutions 2nd priority: SDG 4: quality education 3rd priority: SDG 10: reduced inequalities

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

The war in Ukraine has been a relevant stress test for the European fight against disinformation. The organisational framework put inplace and recently augmented by the Digital Services Act on the basis of the coordination of all interested parties (Code of Conduct forthe platforms, fact checking, access to data, intervention of the regulators and validation of the results) has demonstrated to be robust,even if progress is still needed

It is useful to stress the importance of having a distributed system, not a vertically integrated one. Interaction and collaboration betweenthe differents organisations involved is fundamental, as is the transparency and neutrality of the actions and decisions of thoseorganisations. The Commission which has the power to inflict heavy fines, will only intervene when one of the actors does not respectagreed rules and procedures

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Measures to counter disinformation needs to be improved all around the world, in a multistakeholder form.

Independent regulatory bodies could play an essential role and are a good compromise between the respect of Human Right and the restrictions required by the fight against disinformation.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

Giacomo Mazzone introduces the Town Hall meeting explaining that the title “The war in Ukraine and the disinformation war”, was proposed by Edmo (the European Digital Media Observatory) and Eurovisioni. The objective of the session is to understand how the Internet can be used as a weapon, not in the battlefied, but in a battle to influence public opinion about the war in Ukraine, in the rest of Europe and in the world. 

Disinformation around Ukraine is also a testbed for the recent measures that the European Union has put into place to fight disinformation, such as the Code of practice and the European Digital Media Observatory (which were presented at the IGF in past meetings) and the newborn network of national observatories of EDMO. The present war is a laboratory of what could happen in a future cyber war.

Krisztina Stump, Head of the Unit in charge of the Commission’s policy to fight disinformation, presents the unique European approach. It is unique because it is based on a strong toolbox, whose tools are fully rooted in freedom of speech, combining regulation and industry-led solutions (reflected in the Code) in the form of co-regulation, with the Digital Services Act backing up the Code; it is rooted in a multi stakeholder approach, which is also demonstrated by EDMO, its national/regional hubs and the diverse stakeholder community it is assembling. 

Within the Code, did we find a single magic bullet to fight disinformation? This is not the case, as disinformation is a complex problem, requiring complex solutions. The code of practice is a therefore toolbox with a variety of instruments that all together can be efficient in fighting disinformation.

The key areas of the revised, 2022 Code of Practice are Demonetisation, Transparent political advertising, Reducing manipulative behavior including detecting fake accounts, User empowerment measures including media literacy, Fact checking coverage throughout EU with fair financial contributions and Data access for research.

The Code comes with strong transparency measures to allow users to consult how signatories of the Code implemented it. There is a Transparency Center, a Permanent Task-force chaired by the Commission which continues to work on the implementation of the Code, and a robust monitoring framework to make sure the commitments are properly implemented.

There are 35 signatories of the Code, which include major online platforms (Google, Meta, Tiktok, Twitter, Microsoft, etc.), but also associations and smaller and specialised platforms, the advertising industry, fact-checkers, research organisations and players offering technological solutions to fight disinformation. This is putting into practice the multi stake-holder approach.

In case signatories – who are considered as Very Large Online Platforms -  do not live up to their responsibility to mitigate the risks stemming from disinformation, the Digital Services Act offers regulatory intervention (hard regulation entered in force in all EU countries on November 16th 2022.

The war in Ukraine and the war propaganda surrounding it is a very specific situation. The Kremlin’s propaganda machine is part of hybrid warfare, it is in that light that the EU adopted  sanctions against certain Russian broadcasting channels. At the same time,  the implementation of the Code of Practice by the signatories offers also a variety of measures fighting disinformation around the war. The Commission is working with the signatories to make sure they live up to their commitments, notably to demonetize Ukraine related disinformation, to increase  fact-checking, and to apply all the other measures such as giving users reliable information, labeling State affiliated accounts, and take measures against coordinated manipulative behaviour.

EDMO secretary general Paula Gori presented the Ukraine’s war observatory, that since February is regularly analyzing and reporting about disinformation campaign across Europe while  Claire Wardle – EDMO expert for Media Literacy- explained that disinformation need to be tackled also in the long term through digital and media literacy regular efforts and campaigns.

Two fact-checking organizations participating to the debunking activities of EDMO (Tommaso Canetta/Pagella Politica and Adam Maternik/Demagog.org) presented some of the cases of disinformation and of toxic information propagated during the war, mainly by Russian sources, but also, in a smaller percentage, by Ukrainian sources.

Francesco Sciacchitano from the Italian regulatory body added that the disinformation war has been a very tricky issue to be treated by independent authorities of regulation across the EU, because this effort lies on the thin edge that divides freedom of expression from hate speech and propaganda from reliable reporting.

The panel’s session was followed by a short but intense session of questions and answer with the audience in the room and on line in which intervened Russian, Ukrainians and Iranians participants.