Disinformation is one of the major concerns of democratic countries. Behind false news or fake news, strategies are often articulated to manipulate public opinion and erode the stability of States and their institutions.
Hoaxes and disinformation have long been a global threat to freedom and democracy. The development and widespread use of digital media allow for campaigns to spread quickly, making disinformation a more pressing problem. In recent years, both the flow of information and disinformation have accelerated, as demonstrated by the infodemics on the networks in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coordination with three key players is key in the fight against disinformation: technology companies, civil society and factcheckers, and academic institutions. In addition, strategic communication is one of the key tools in the fight against disinformation and requires a broad approach. Disinformation campaigns are often not limited to the dissemination of false news, but often aim to construct a malicious story. Hence the close relationship between the fight against disinformation and strategic communication, public diplomacy and digital communication.
The June 2018 European Council tasked the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission with presenting, by December 2018, in cooperation with Member States and in line with the March 2015 European Council conclusions, an Action Plan for a coordinated response to disinformation. This Action Plan was presented to, and endorsed by, the European Council on 13 and 14 December 2018.
Of its content, the creation of a Rapid Alert System (RAS) with national contact points in March 2019 to provide an instant warning of disinformation campaigns through a specific technological infrastructure and to exchange information between Member States and the Union is noteworthy for its practical nature. This System ensures the necessary coordination between European partners and facilitates both the monitoring of networks to detect disinformation campaigns and actions and, eventually, the design of common responses when necessary.
Spain is firmly committed to the fight against disinformation and is working actively, within the framework of the European Union and with particular emphasis since 2018, to establish agile and effective procedures in this regard. Spain participates in the SAR and also coordinates internally to detect and react to this phenomenon. The entire Public Administration is involved in the fight against disinformation, each Ministry from its area of competence and with special attention to possible threat scenarios. As a complement to the measures promoted in coordination with the European Union, Spain carries out multiple actions in the fight against disinformation through its institutions and has established permanent coordination mechanisms between the different bodies of the Public Administrations, including the Permanent Commission for the Fight against Disinformation, established in March 2019.
NATO is also active in combating disinformation. As part of its communications strategy, combating disinformation in the context of the new hybrid threats is a key element. In this respect, programmes have been launched to analyse the information space, such as "Setting the Record Straight", in order to detect trends in disinformation and to be able to react more quickly and develop specific content.