Discussion Paper

Fear and lying in the EU: Fighting disinformation on migration with alternative narratives

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Excerpt from the Executive Summary

Migration remains a salient political issue and a major topic of disinformation. Lies and half-truths about migrants spread freely across the EU. But the narratives and themes used by disinformation actors are not static. As events develop and public concerns shift, so do the types of stories pushed by those seeking to mislead. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a growing stream of articles linking migrants to infection risks and accusing them of receiving preferential treatment.

Disinformation actors have certain advantages over other communicators, as they can promote simplistic or one-sided depictions of migration without regard for truth or accuracy. Rather than seeking to counteract specific claims, such as through fact-checking or counternarratives, communicators and policymakers should instead promote alternative narratives that can undermine the appeal of hostile frames and create ‘herd immunity’ against disinformation. Alternative narratives should especially target those in the ‘movable middle’ who are most open to changing their views, especially as these groups may also be more liable to being influenced by disinformation.

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