With few precedents to emulate, dialogue and exchange among EMBs that are developing counter-disinformation approaches are particularly important. Exchange enables election authorities to learn from peers making similarly difficult decisions and adjustments.
IFES’ Regional Europe program has established a working group for EMBs dedicated to tackling the challenges presented by social media and disinformation in elections. The virtual launch of the working group in May 2020 gathered nearly 50 election officials from 13 countries in the Eastern Partnership and Western Balkans and provided a forum to discuss the challenge of electoral misinformation and disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The working group provides EMBs with a platform for continued peer learning, skill-building, and developing best practices. The effort complements the launch of a global working group that brings together election authorities and social media companies planned by the Design 4 Democracy Coalition.
EMBs that have been leaders in developing counter-disinformation strategies are also passing on lessons to peer institutions in other countries. INE has shared exchanges with electoral authorities from Tunisia and Guatemala to learn from Mexico’s counter-disinformation approach during elections. The Election Commission of South Africa hosted global experts and EMB representatives from across Africa in March 2020 to share experiences mitigating the impact of social media on electoral integrity.
“We perceive the danger of disinformation, but a lack of information leaves us feeling like we don’t have sufficient information, and the result is fear…. We need more information about the problem and to map credible sources of resources so that we don’t have fear to use those resources.”- Southern African EMB Representative