Hooper Testifies on Russian Disinformation Efforts in United States, Europe

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First’s Melissa Hooper today will urge members of Congress to maintain American support for democratic norms and institutions in response to Russian disinformation efforts at home and in Europe. Hooper will testify before the Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the “Helsinki Commission”) during their hearing, “The Scourge of Russian Disinformation” this morning.

“Now more than ever, the United States needs to maintain the leadership role we have held since the last World War in supporting democratic norms and values,” noted Hooper in her prepared testimony. “Nations the world over are looking to us for guidance in dealing with this new type of threat to our institutions and ideals. We need to step up.”

Human Rights First notes that over recent years Russia has exploited divisions in Europe by using social media and propaganda to spread disinformation and undermine public confidence in democratic governance.

Kremlin-sponsored actors have been documented using so-called “trolls” and digital “bots” to spread this propaganda and disinformation. Examples include stories on cutting European Union support to Ukraine and articles falsely accusing migrants of terrorist and criminal activity. With its propaganda, Russia seeks to undermine the idea of objective truth and cause citizens in the United States and Europe to question their governing institutions.

In her testimony, Hooper calls for Congress to work with foreign governments, technology companies, and civil society to combat disinformation, and for a resumption of significant support to Central and Eastern European countries on the front lines of dealing with Russian malign influence. She further calls on Congress to adequately fund domestic and international programs dealing with media literacy.

“At a time when Russia is directly challenging democratic values and institutions through a concerted, multifaceted effort, we need to invest in these mainstays of sustainable security and prosperity,” added Hooper.


Published on September 14, 2017


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