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Czech Interior Ministry monitoring up to 40 disinformation servers

28.6.2017 11:24
The Czech online tabloid Parlamentní listy published two fake news items in mid-April 2017 that had been submitted as a test, which they have failed. (Collage:  Romea.cz)
The Czech online tabloid Parlamentní listy published two fake news items in mid-April 2017 that had been submitted as a test, which they have failed. (Collage: Romea.cz)

The Czech Interior Ministry is monitoring as many as 40 online servers which they believe are harming the interests of the Czech state, according to news server Aktuálně.cz, which has managed to acquire internal materials from the ministry and statements from some highly-positioned officials there. The servers being monitored include websites that purely serve disinformation purposes, as well as websites that are manipulative or propagandistic.

An official list of such "alternative" servers, which is the term being used in internal ministry channels to refer to these sites, does not exist, according to Aktuálně.cz, apparently so that nobody will be able to request such a list on the basis of freedom of information legislation. Aktuálně.cz has reconstructed its own list on the basis of hundreds of pages of internal documents from the Interior Ministry which it has acquired.

In those materials, web portals falling under the Our Media publishing house, including the tabloid Parlamentní listy, the majority owner of which is Czech Senator Ivo Valenta, make frequent appearances. "They are following a lot of them. The most influential disinformation websites, in their view, are AC24, Svět kolem nás, Lajkit, Vědomosti and Parlamentní listy with all of its sub-portals, as well as New World Order Opposition, Svobodné noviny, Vlastenecké noviny and Aeronet," a highly-placed source from the Interior Ministry described to Aktuálně.cz.

The ministry is continuing to officially refuse to confirm which websites it is following. "It's not possible to provide that information," ministry spokesperson Jiří Korbel told Aktuálně.cz.

The spokesperson would only say that the websites being followed are not purely disinformation outlets, but also include activist websites where misleading information also appears. "We are capturing several dozen clearly tendentious, not objective, not balanced articles daily. The number of articles that are unequivocally disinformation, fake news, is approximately less than 10 a day," Korbel said.

The ministry also has a list of between 50 and 100 influential people who contribute to disseminating fake or manipulative news reports. "On the one hand we are counting the active authors of alternative media pieces, and on the other hand groups of authority figures or pseudo-experts who are doing their best to intensively advocate for narratives in the media environment and public debate that contravene the security interests of the Czech Republic as defined by the Czech Republic's Security Strategy," Korbel said.

The European Values organization, as part of its Kremlin Watch project, previously created its own list of disinformation websites, including a description of the characteristics of their authors and content - according to that organization's findings, most of these websites are not transparent, and the direct creation of disinformation in the Czech Republic involves roughly 100 persons, the identities of only about one-third of whom are known. News server Romea.cz has ascertained that the vast majority of such disinformation websites also publish anti-Romani articles, as they are also strongly racist.

Kristina Dienstbierová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Hoax, manipulation, Dezinformační web, Ministertsvo vnitra



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