Sometimes facts can be disinformation. Taken out of context, a quote, a number, a statement or a picture can be deceiving, while factually correct. Lies work more effectively, when they are supported by something factual; something real, something true.

A picture, published by the pro-Kremlin disinformation outlet Sputnik, is a good example of this. Two smiling young men, in front of the burning Notre Dame. The picture itself has been discussed – doctored or not? Sputnik reassures that it is an authentic picture of two young students at the scene, and states that they “did not attract the attention of our correspondent neither during the photo shoot, nor when the photo was published”.

Funny, did the photographer shoot only one frame? Didn’t Sputnik have any other choice, than to publish this very picture? As Kremlin Propagandiste Extraordinaire Dmitriy Kiselyov would say: “A coincidence? I don’t think so!”

Of course, the reality is that this picture was carefully selected among dozens, even hundreds of frames shot by Sputnik’s photographers. Because this one suited Sputnik’s narrative. And Sputnik didn’t then have to instruct the trolls – they knew how to use the photo.

Half-Truths and Full Lies

The French news agency AFP performed an investigation on the story of the picture. It was picked up by far right American and French sites and used to “prove” the Muslims’ reaction to the fire. The two young men in the picture describe to AFP how they in a few hours became the target of international racism.

Other examples of “fact-based disinformation” this week:

Pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets are mastering the art of almost not lying. But a half-truth can be just as deceiving as a lie.

News Front Blames the Jews

Of course, there is no shortage of blatant lying as well: pro-Kremlin media continue to repeat fantasies claiming that the illegal Crimean annexation was anything but Moscow land-grabbing; and about Ukraine being controlled by nazis, supported by French President Macron. The usual stuff.

Lies, half-truths, one-percent-truths – the pro-Kremlin disinformation machine certainly has an impact. US based cybersecurity firm SafeGuard Cyber estimates, according to Politico.eu, that “half the population of the EU-countries may have been exposed to some form of Russian-backed disinformation campaign”. The focus for the campaign is the large EU countries, like Germany. Russia-based sites in German, like News Front and South Front, are eager to present anti-migration and anti-EU topics, spicing them up with some anti-Semitic material on “The Jewish Soul of the Bolshevik Revolution“. Sputnik Deutschland keeps parroting how voting in the election to the European Parliament is worthless.

Moscow has mobilised a noisy disinformation campaign to target the EU elections in May, juggling full lies, half-truths, facts and pictures taken out of context; spinning stories, only remotely connected to reality.

It’s a twisted version of the oath “The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth”: The oath of the Kremlin disinformation outlets is “The Half-Truth, a Little of the Truth and a Lot of Stuff Besides the Truth”.

The campaign is loud and obnoxious, but there are methods to find the facts, the truth, the real stories. Check out our tool box for fact-checking and let us, as voters and citizens, keep fighting for clean and fair elections.

EDIT: Removed reference to a story that didn’t meet our criteria for disinformation


related disinfo cases

Date
Title
Outlets
Country
07.05.2019
  • RT Russia
UK, Russia
07.05.2019
  • RT Russia
Ukraine, Russia
06.05.2019
  • RT France - YouTube
Venezuela, US
04.05.2019
  • Ria Novosti
US, Ukraine, Russia
04.05.2019
  • RT Russia
Ukraine
04.05.2019
  • Berestje News
Belarus, Lithuania
04.05.2019
  • RT France - YouTube
France
03.05.2019
  • Sputnik Germany
Ukraine, Russia
03.05.2019
  • Ria Novosti - Crimea
US, Ukraine
03.05.2019
  • Katehon - English
Russia
02.05.2019
  • RT Germany - YouTube
Ukraine
02.05.2019
  • Sputnik Italia
Syria, US
02.05.2019
  • Sputnik France
France
01.05.2019
  • ukraina.ru,
  • Luga1news.ru
Ukraine, Russia
30.04.2019
  • vesti.ru
Syria
30.04.2019
  • Tsargrad TV
Ukraine
30.04.2019
  • Sputnik Belarus - Russian
US, Ukraine
30.04.2019
  • Sputnik Belarus - Russian
Ukraine
30.04.2019
  • Sputnik Spain
Syria
30.04.2019
  • Sputnik Poland
29.04.2019
  • Sputnik Belarus - Russian
Russia
29.04.2019
  • Sputnik Belarus - Russian
29.04.2019
  • rubaltic.ru,
  • Sozh,
  • Teleskop
Belarus, Ukraine, Russia
29.04.2019
  • rubaltic.ru,
  • Sozh,
  • Teleskop
Belarus, Russia
29.04.2019
  • Sputnik Poland
Ukraine, Russia
29.04.2019
  • RT English
Ukraine, Russia
27.04.2019
  • ren.tv
Denmark, Sweden
26.04.2019
  • Sputnik Belarus - Russian
Lithuania
26.04.2019
  • ukraina.ru,
  • Rossia 24 - YouTube
Ukraine
25.04.2019
  • RT France - YouTube
Venezuela, France, Syria, Ukraine
24.04.2019
  • RT English
Syria
24.04.2019
  • Sputnik English
Syria, Russia
24.04.2019
  • Berestje News
Belarus
23.04.2019
  • Sonar2050
Ukraine
23.04.2019
  • Pervyi Kanal
Ukraine, Russia
23.04.2019
  • Sputnik Poland
Ukraine, Russia
22.04.2019
  • Axar.az
Ukraine
17.04.2019
  • Sputnik Poland
Ukraine, Russia
12.04.2019
  • Berestje News
Belarus
05.04.2019
  • Berestje News
Lithuania
08.02.2019
  • novarepublika.cz
Venezuela, Czech Republic
06.02.2019
  • svobodnenoviny.eu
Venezuela, Czech Republic