29 February 2024

1. Partner with civil society

Ideal for: Local government, press offices, education departments

As digital disinformation has become a more prevalent threat to society, fact-checking organisations have proliferated. Most fact-checking outlets maintain journalistic ethics and integrity standards and dedicate their efforts to reach target audiences, making them good outreach partners.

Government agencies can partner with or provide funding to independent fact-checking organisations to tackle disinformation and better reach the public.

In addition to debunking misinformation, fact-checkers can verify accurate political communications, which at least one study in Argentina found to be an important element of the work in the public’s opinion.

Fact-checking organisations are often either non-profit organisations, media companies, or both, with some academic projects mixed in, as well.

Example: With the support of the EU Parliament, the Finnish government funded a fact-checking organisation to introduce FactBar EDU in the nation’s schools. The Digital Literacy Curriculum focuses on enhancing students’ ability to detect disinformation.

Resource: The Civic Tech Field Guide maintains a free directory of nearly 100 fact-checking publications and projects.

2. Engage locally-trusted influencers

Ideal for: Public communications officers, public health departments, community liaison staff, local government

The mainstream media environment continues to erode, so these locally-trusted leaders become vital messengers to key communities. Social media influencers reach huge (as well as niche) audiences. And many are developing the political skills to leverage their large followings to support causes they care about. Some are even in formal coordination with governments and social campaigns.

Example: The Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, funded by the European Commission, runs its own Influencers Programme. The programme pays people to create relevant content on social media platforms.

Resources: New startups are facilitating influencer coordination. Mainstream companies like Greenfly take on political clients, while other platforms like Currant focus explicitly on the political and social advocacy market. 

3. Work within the judiciary system

Ideal for: Solicitors and public attorneys, enforcement agencies, elected officials, attorneys general, special rapporteurs

Enforcing existing laws is an important and straightforward way to counter digital disinformation. By working with national and EU-wide ministries of justice and judiciary institutions, governments can apply pre-existing regulations on issues like hate speech, consumer protection, and protected communities to prosecute coordinated disinformation efforts.

Consider, for example:

  • National, state, and local ministries or departments of justice.
  • The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST), which is responsible for ensuring EU policies on issues like consumer rights and gender equality are applied in member states.
  • The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) for international coordination of criminal activity. Many disinformation networks are organised by economic and/or state-backed actors in violation of existing laws.
  • Eurojust for coordinating national responses to criminal networks between member states’ agencies and prosecutors.

Example: InternetLab Brasil was able to implement some of its policy recommendations for stemming political disinformation in the country by directly participating in the federal court’s own program against electoral disinformation. In the course of its participation, InternetLab advised the group and shared its policy proposals. The strategy paid off when the electoral board adopted InternetLab’s proposals in its new resolutions.

4. Engage the tech platforms, voluntarily and by law

Ideal for: Regulatory officials, public attorneys, auditors

Although their level of engagement and the size of their moderation teams vary widely, establishing protocols and opening communication channels with the large tech platforms can help with each step of the disinformation workflow. The companies can help identify and mitigate the spread of disinformation in their products by prioritising key issues internally.

This approach is especially helpful on critical flagship priorities like COVID-19 and elections. The companies’ record as partners is inconsistent depending on the severity of the disinformation topic, the language(s) of the social media content, and their presence (or lack thereof) in the countries in question.

US Congressional testimony in January, 2024 provided rare insight into the size of social moderation teams at several large tech platforms. Source: The Verge

Getting the actual product and decision-making leaders from the tech platforms to participate in responses has historically posed a challenge, as the companies often send public policy outreach staff to engage instead.

Example: The European Union’s voluntary Code of Practice on Disinformation sets a standard for combating online disinformation. Several tech platforms signed the commitment and report relevant data in the EU’s Transparency Centre.

Fortunately, new regulations in the European Union and other jurisdictions require large platforms to meaningfully address disinformation on their services, or else pay substantial fines. While this hasn’t yet led to universal compliance, it has introduced a significant cost to corporate negligence on this issue.

Example: The EU Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act together introduce a modern legal framework that requires very large online platforms (with over 45 million users) in particular to provide transparency about their advertisers, algorithms, content moderation policies, and efforts to mitigate disinformation on their services.

5. Ensure funding for high quality public broadcasting

Ideal for: Local, regional, and national government officials and civil servants, communications departments

Another strategy to limit the effects of disinformation on society is to pro-actively fund and amplify trusted information sources. For example, governments can help encourage responsible journalism, especially through its investments in public media outlets.

Example: The BBC, a public media company, runs BBC Verify, a disinformation detection team of journalists.

6. Support academic research on the topic

Ideal for: National and local science funding bodies

By partnering with research institutions to study disinformation, governments can improve their policy and response strategies.


  • The European Union regularly funds research projects on the impact of disinformation and society through initiatives like Horizon 2020.
  • The German Federal Ministry for Education and Science fund the research project DeFaktS that aims to create an AI tool to recognise and explain typical forms of disinformation. 

7. The public sector can advertise, too

Ideal for: Local government, public communication officials

In an attention economy, it can pay to get the message directly to citizens. Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and other government-funded information campaigns can help cut through the noise and promote vital information in key locations, or to key audiences. These budgets can also support other public goods, like public transportation services.

8. Work with the private sector

Ideal for: Executive officials, political appointees

Public-private partnerships can leverage the unique strengths of the private sector towards public interest goals.

Example: InternetLAB Brasil partnered with an unlikely bedfellow, the country’s marketing and advertising industry, to confront disinformation. They found the industry leaders remarkably receptive to working together. The industry is a highly relevant actor in the information ecosystem due to their massive advertising budgets. The partnership helped de-fund disinformation publishers and inform marketing budgets with more awareness of the societal narratives they promote.

8. Participate in existing multilateral responses

Ideal for: Executive teams, legislative committees, foreign policy ministries

Disinformation doesn’t stop at political borders. It’s often designed to spread within a certain language community, diaspora, or social network, yet our responses are often limited to specific political district boundaries. This puts us at a disadvantage because our responses are siloed and disjointed.

International cooperation can help keep up with the rapidly changing disinfo environment. Existing multilateral institutions have adjusted to coordinate members’ response to digital disinformation.


  • The EU’s Rapid Alert System “to facilitate the sharing of insights related to disinformation campaigns and coordinate responses” among EU institutions and Member States. The system incorporates findings from research, fact-checking outfits, digital platforms, and international allies, and was designed to complement rather than duplicate existing EU threat response structures.
  • NATO’s Stratcom Communications Centre of Excellence, based in Latvia, brings together “multinational and cross-sector participants from the civilian and military, private and academic sectors and usage of modern technologies, virtual tools for analyses, research and decision making” to understand trends like legitimacy and the role of AI in supporting public communications.

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