Observation of Information Manipulations on EU Parliament Elections

Executive Summary

From the start of the year until early April 2024, detailed analysis has revealed the engagement of 16,902 troll accounts in related discussions, making up 12.10% of the total conversation. Media analysis during this period also detected 1,365 instances of media engagement, with 4.84% of these instances (66 mentions) linked to state-affiliated media from China and Russia.

In the lead-up to the European Parliament elections, the digital discourse is heavily influenced by orchestrated campaigns from troll groups, highlighting two primary developments: the purported rise of far-right movements within Europe and initiatives to counteract interference on social media by Russia, large tech firms, and other external actors. These troll-driven narratives foster a deliberate skepticism towards the threat of extremism and promote a robust endorsement of conservative ideologies, skewing public perception. Moreover, they amplify concerns over government censorship, question the integrity of mainstream media, and feed disillusionment with traditional outlets’ handling of topics like Russian propaganda, thereby sowing a deeper mistrust in the media as fair conveyors of information. The impending rollout of EU regulations aimed at curbing disinformation on platforms such as X, TikTok, and Facebook is presented by these trolls as a contentious issue, complicating efforts to balance election security with the maintenance of free speech rights.

Troll groups’ narratives, reflecting those in Russian and Chinese state-affiliated media, span a wide array of concerns impacting Europe, with a special focus on the continent’s declining living standards and extending to topics beyond the immediate scope of the European Parliament elections. These narratives delve into issues like Russia’s War in Ukraine, energy security, digital regulation, migration, and climate change, showcasing a thematic coherence that transcends borders and highlights key geopolitical and socio-economic challenges. This alignment underscores a concerted effort to shape public discourse around critical issues affecting Europe, revealing a strategic intersection of interests among troll groups and state media from Russia and China, particularly on matters such as energy security and geopolitical conflicts.

The narrative landscape of online trolling has been significantly influenced by two predominant troll groups, each advocating distinct agendas on platforms, Twitter and YouTube. On Twitter, one group has launched intense criticism against Joe Biden, scrutinizing his mental health and policy decisions, and has targeted Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau with accusations of economic mismanagement and media bias, casting Canada unfavorably. Conversely, on YouTube, the narrative pushed by another troll group expresses dissatisfaction with financial assistance to Ukraine, levels criticism at NATO for intensifying conflicts, and challenges U.S. foreign policy—particularly its support for Israel—advocating for President Biden to adopt a stance more sympathetic to Palestine.

As this intricate web of disinformation unfolds, similar strategies observed in the recent Taiwan presidential election and the TikTok banning event in the U.S. shed further light on the pervasive tactics employed. In both instances, narratives around the regulation of social media platforms echo those seen in the EU, with troll groups vocally championing ‘freedom of speech’ as a principal argument against regulation. Furthermore, when the discourse veers towards the rise of far-right ideologies, these groups skillfully divert the conversation by asserting that the EU should prioritize resolving other more critical issues. This tactic of distraction aligns with their broader strategy of undermining focused discussions on pressing matters. Additionally, a recurring pattern emerges where media outlets that highlight misinformation become targets themselves, accused of bias or incompetence. This tactic not only challenges the credibility of the media but also attempts to dilute the severity of misinformation issues, reflecting a sophisticated approach to disrupting coherent public discourse on a global scale.

As the European Union navigates through this critical period marked by geopolitical shifts, internal challenges, and external manipulations, the role of digital platforms in shaping political narratives becomes increasingly evident. The orchestrated activities of troll groups, coupled with the strategic dissemination of narratives that echo state-affiliated media from adversarial nations, highlight a complex web of influence aimed at destabilizing public discourse and swaying electoral outcomes. This environment, ripe with disinformation and polarized ideologies, underscores the urgent need for robust mechanisms to safeguard the integrity of the democratic process. As EU citizens approach a pivotal election, setting up the AI-powered mechanism with trustworthy partners in order to establish the collective resilience of the European community against disruptions will be crucial in steering the continent towards a future that reflects its democratic values and principles, ensuring that the voice of the electorate prevails amidst the cacophony of digital warfare.


As the European Union approaches the June 2024 European Parliament elections, it faces a complex and rapidly changing global environment. These elections come in the wake of significant global events, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the completion of Brexit, and the anticipation of the upcoming U.S. presidential election, potentially featuring Donald Trump as a candidate. The political landscape within the EU is experiencing a noticeable shift toward right-wing ideologies, challenging traditional political factions and signaling a possible reconfiguration of power in Brussels. The upcoming elections are poised to be a pivotal moment, potentially altering the EU’s strategic direction as the new Commission may chart a different course. While the existing European Commission has introduced significant legislative measures, the forthcoming Commission is poised to chart a novel course, possibly altering the EU’s strategic direction.

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