In recent years, there has been a growing interest and effort to analyse the European Union’s role in the promotion of security in the cyberspace. However, the research has focused on how the EU approaches threats that emerge from the use of cyberspace to disrupt and/or destroy critical information and communication infrastructures, whereas threats that emerge from the use of cyberspace to manipulate perceptions and behaviours are still understudied. In this context, the rise of social media emerges as particularly challenging. Social media’s technological characteristics enable state and non-state actors to, through a low-cost, almost immediate and global way, manipulate societies’ minds in order to sow chaos. These platforms have been used to promote old tactics, such as disinformation, in a more refined way, allowing the sophisticated development of what John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt (1993) named as “netwar(fare)”. These challenges are particularly demanding for democratic institutions because they can involve certain actions that can collide with fundamental democratic values and principles, such as freedom of expression. Therefore, the aim of this research is to understand the EU’s role countering online disinformation, without undermining the protection and promotion of democracy’s fundamental values and principals, which is in its assumed role as a security provider.
Keywords: European Union; cyberspace; online disinformation; netwar(fare); democracy
Sofia Martins Geraldes | Centro de Estudos Internacionais, ISCTE-IUL, Portugal
Sofia Martins Geraldes is a PhD candidate in History, Security and Defence Studies (ISCTE-IUL/Portuguese Military Academy), and she holds a doctoral fellowship from FCT. Geraldes worked in the External Relations Department of OGMA as Political Analyst. She was trainee at the National Defence Institute. She holds a BA in Political Science and International Relations and a MA in International Relations (University of Beira Interior). Research interests: EU, NATO, Security Studies, Cyberspace and Contemporary Conflict, Information Operations.