Fake survey, misleading news and blocking of Trump’s account

On Friday afternoon is a new and short text form of the Digital Forensic Center, which we use to share significant and interesting news and events that marked a week behind us. We begin this week’s overview with the most significant news and events from our Center and Montenegro.

We published the first this year’s issue of the DFC Magazine which presents the retrospective of the influence of disinformation, narratives, and conspiracy theories on the political events in Montenegro during 2020. Recently, the independent experts analyzed the information environment in the six Western Balkan countries, for the purpose of the European Parliament. The DFC analyzed presented observations on Montenegro since the study is filled with vague information, one-sided conclusions, and inaccurate data. Besides that, we published the most significant messages of the participants on a panel discussion about disinformation at the 10th 2BS Forum, as well as the new DFC podcast Under the Loupe with Professor Bozena Jelusic having expressed her views on the media literacy situation in Montenegro.

Also, there is a new episode of the podcast Under the Loupe where we talked with Stefan Janjic, editor of the fact-check portal Fake News Tragač. Topics of this episode were the situation with media in Serbia as well as the negative influence of disinformation and fake news launched during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As always, the DFC was monitoring fake news and disinformation on social media and media in Montenegro and the region. At the beginning of the week, a fake public opinion survey on the support to the parties and coalitions in Niksic appeared on social media. As we are getting closer to the local election in that town, we are sure that this and similar material will be spread more frequently. Similar fake public opinion surveys appeared in the period before the parliamentary election in August last year.

Screenshot of the false public opinion survey conducted in Niksic

Besides this fake public opinion survey, the Serbia-based media and a couple of them from Montenegro launched a piece of fake news that the Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic is in the Kodra hospital due to his aggravated health condition, and that the party congress of the DFC, scheduled for January 23 is postponed. The DFC reacted promptly and informed the public that this is fake news.

Some of the headlines about the DPS congress postponement

Now, we are moving to the United States. The storming of Donald Trump’s supporters in Capitol Hill slowly reaches its epilogue. Donald Trump was impeached for the second time during his mandate, and a lot of his supporters who violently broke into Congress were arrested. Additionally, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube blocked his accounts. Besides, this week Twitter permanently suspended 70,000 accounts in connection with the QAnon movement that at the same time supports Trump, in order to prevent the violent usage of this social media. Those accounts were sharing dangerous content related to conspiracy theories to a great extent.

Also, social media Parler, very popular among conservative circles in the United States, was taken down since Amazon terminated its web hosting services. Amazon previously warned the company that it would lose access to its servers due to omissions in the policy towards violent content.

Have a nice weekend!