OTTAWA, ON (September 24, 2020): The Macdonald-Laurier Institute is pleased to launch a new foreign disinformation monitoring and debunking platform, DisinfoWatch.org, with a specific focus on COVID-19. The site will track and analyze foreign disinformation narratives, examining how they align and are amplified by domestic platforms, groups and actors.

Throughout the COVID pandemic, our information environment has become more polluted than ever; information is often misleading, false and often intended to confuse and polarize us. Through a toxic mix of conspiracies, hoaxes, blatant fabrications and propaganda, malign domestic and foreign actors are using our free and open information environment against us.

DisinfoWatch aims to monitor, analyze, and expose the COVID “infodemic” and other forms of mis/disinformation,” explains project lead and MLI Senior Fellow, Marcus Kolga. “The project seeks to encourage greater social resilience against harmful information manipulation through education and awareness.”

“It is the first such Canadian platform to directly address and counter these threats and concerns by building awareness of them.”

Through a network of domestic and global partner organizations and experts, DisinfoWatch shares disinformation threat intelligence, trends and analysis, in order to provide context and understanding about who is engaging in the proliferation of disinformation and why they’re doing it. By developing greater understanding of disinformation, Canada and its allies will be better prepared to defend against it.

The scope of monitoring includes, but is not limited to mis/disinformation appearing on:

  • foreign state-sponsored platforms;
  • platforms aligned with malign foreign regimes;
  • conspiracy theory platforms that promote narratives that align with malign foreign regimes;
  • astroturf organizations and proxy groups operating in Canada aligned with malign foreign regimes;
  • accounts on social media platforms that share narratives aligned with malign foreign regimes, conspiracy theory platforms and groups that both actively and passively pollute the information environment with mis/disinformation, regardless of intent;
  • third-language media in Canada and elsewhere that promote narratives that align with malign foreign regimes; and
  • instances of mis/disinformation posted and debunked by recognized fact checking organizations.

Digital literacy tools that have been developed by Journalists for Human Rights to build awareness of smart media consumption habits, and digital media hygiene, will soon be featured on the platform to further promote Canadian resilience against mis and disinformation.

Development of the DisinfoWatch platform is funded by the United States Department of State’s Global Engagement Center and the US Embassy in Ottawa with support from Journalists for Human Rights.

For more information, media are invited to contact:

Brett Byers
Communications and Digital Media Manager
613-482-8327 x105
brett.byers@macdonaldlaurier.ca

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