War on Ukraine: Resources to Avoid Disinfo, Circumvent Censorship,
They say the first casualty of war is the truth – and that is still a very accurate statement. If you head over to the big social media channels to find out more about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, you will find that they are rife with false information, propaganda, and lies. At the same time, legitimate information is suppressed, first and foremost in Russia. Obviously, there is relatively little DW Innovation (and DW) can do to stop disinformation or censorship (let alone this terrible war right here in Europe). Nevertheless, we can offer this small list of free DW resources that may at least help you stay clear of questionable content and/or help others access much needed information – for what it’s worth.
A first step in a situation like the one we are currently confronted with is to rely on trusted news sources. DW channels and outlets are definitely among them (according to independent media critics). Here are three services that are particularly relevant at the moment:
- DW News in English (Website) | DW News in English on Twitter
- DW News in Ukrainian (Website) | DW News in Ukrainian on Twitter
- DW News in Russian (Website) | DW News in Russian on Twitter
DW also has a dedicated fact checking team that "debunks, explains and uses in-depth research techniques to separate fact from fiction." They already have and will continue to run special posts on fakes, propaganda, and the war.
A search of DW's media database will give you more fact checks, mostly published in the regular news section.
If you are interested in the work of other fact checkers (many different perspectives, many different languages, lots of pieces on the Russo-Ukrainian War), you may also want to consult the EDMO repository #1, where we–as an associated partner to the EDMO consortium–have published a map and table of almost 100 fact-checking initiatives in the EU and in the UK.
DW Freedom (Twitter), in turn, covers all kinds of issues related to censorship, which is also a big issue in times of war. In that context, we would like to recommend the following posts on dw.com:
- How to send messages in Ukraine if the internet shuts down
- Using DW mobile applications and Psyphon to circumvent censorship
- Accessing DW websites via Tor
- Tor, Psiphon, Signal and co.: How to move unrecognized on the internet
- Bypassing censorship with VPNs–is that really safe?
Furthermore, there is InfoMigrants (Website, Twitter), a joint-venture of DW, ANSA and France Médias Monde. It is "a news and information site for migrants to counter misinformation at every point of their journey: in their country of origin, along the route, or in the places where they hope to start a new life."
No Ukrainian or Russian language service has been established yet, but the war in Eastern Europe is already being covered in the English language news.
If you want to go one step further, you can also start investigating content yourself. An excellent and 100% free tool to do that is the WeVerify Verification PlugIn, which was developed in two of our recent R&D projects, namely InVID and WeVerify. The Chrome browser extension provides a collection of verification and open source intelligence (OSINT) tools mainly designed for professional investigators, but it is easy to install, comes with instructions, and often yields immediate results. For example, a reverse image search (RIS) across a number of different search engines can be done with just two clicks.
More basic and also recommended: The KID Verification Toolbox. This microsite (which is a part of this blog) explains relevant key terms, gives an introduction to the process of content analysis, and offers a list of beginner-friendly verification tools and services on the web.
A final piece of advice, and a direct quote from the toolbox:
"Before using any external software to analyze the piece of information you're looking at, it's best practice to fire up two excellent tools of your very own operating system: your gut and your common sense. In a lot of cases, you can spot mis-/disinformation just by pausing for a couple of seconds, taking a step back, and asking questions like 'can this be real?' or 'isn't that too good/too crazy to be true?' The classic 'I know it when I see it' often applies to fake/false/doctored digital content as well."
In this spirit: Think before you share any content related to the war, try to keep it constructive, and stay safe.
The DW Innovation Team
Update 03/03/22: Added Section on InfoMigrants service.
UPDATE 10/03/22: ADDED NEW DW FREEDOM POST.
Key Visual: DW Innovation, based on an OpenStreetMap screenshot