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Change of terminology in the EUvsDisinfo database

January 24, 2018

After some objections to our use of the term “disinforming outlet” in our EUvsDisinfo database, we have decided to change this terminology to “outlet where the disinformation appeared”.

This is to reinforce the point we already make in our public disclaimers – on our website and in our weekly disinformation review – that, by quoting an outlet’s product, we do not necessarily imply that the outlet concerned is linked to the Kremlin or that it is pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. We explore issues such as this in the regular analytical pieces we publish on our website, but we cannot and do not judge the intention of each and every outlet and its author in such a way in the disinformation review or on our database. Our intention in the disinformation review is to highlight the message, not the outlet.

An important part of our mandate is to draw attention to the many examples each week of how the most common pro-Kremlin disinformation messages find their way into European media of all persuasions. We use the term “disinformation” for these false messages because, after two and half years of following pro-Kremlin outlets on a daily basis, we know what disinformation narratives and messages they try to push. When the disinformation originating in the pro-Kremlin ecosystem manages to penetrate a solid Western outlet, it is one of the biggest successes of the disinformation campaign – the message suddenly receives a completely new legitimacy. Thus, what can be perceived as “misinformation” from the point of view of a Western outlet that has unintentionally reported a false information, is most definitely “disinformation” from the point of view of the original disinformer who created and amplified it.

With this change in our labelling we want to reflect more accurately the nature of our work and our mandate.