Spreading Disinformation in Georgia - State Approach and Countermeasures
This report provides an overview of how anti-Western and pro-Russian disinformation narratives are disseminated in Georgia, who the main disseminators are, and how the Georgian government is countering them in the face of ongoing challenges.
The Georgian government is not effective in combating disinformation. There is no political will to tackle the problem.
Although relevant departments have been established in various public agencies to work on disinformation and cybersecurity, accurate analysis of this challenge by the state, interagency coordination and the effectiveness of specific state actions remain a problem.
Due to the unavailability and fragmented nature of information on the performance of public agencies, it is difficult to get a common picture of the methods used by the government to counter disinformation. In many cases, their actions are either formal or reflect the political agenda of the ruling party.
Public agencies are not effective in informing the public in a timely manner about Russian disinformation narratives and mitigating their harmful influence.
Anti-Western, discrediting and disinformation statements by government officials against Western partners, ambassadors, NGOs, and strategic partners sow skepticism among the population toward the West, divide society and strengthen Russian disinformation influences in the country.
Through its inauthentic accounts or fake pages, the ruling party deliberately spreads disinformation against opponents, critical media or NGO representatives.
Some of the country’s strategic documents need to be updated or developed to adequately respond to the growing problem of disinformation. In addition, there is no national strategy to counter hybrid threats, while the National Security Concept needs to be updated.
A large part of the recommendations made by the parliamentary working group on disinformation and propaganda to public agencies in 2019 remain unfulfilled.
As a rule, the government does not cooperate with NGOs and the media, which should be its main allies in the fight against disinformation.
The measures taken to promote media literacy are not sufficient.
The state should play a leading role in the fight against disinformation and have a declared political will to do so.
Government officials should stop making anti-Western and discrediting statements against strategic partners and NGOs. The government should stop encouraging the spread of disinformation.
It is essential to develop a publicly available document that defines common goals with timeframes for combating disinformation, as well as responsible agencies and criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of possible activities. The document should be updated as new challenges emerge.
The state should develop a common anti-disinformation message to be used by all groups involved in the anti-disinformation campaign.
The public should be systematically and proactively informed about disinformation narratives to ensure that citizens are prepared to confront them and to reduce the impact of disinformation. Citizens should have detailed information about who is spreading disinformation in the country and how, the sources of their funding, and what the government is doing to address the problem.
In the midst of the war in Ukraine, the government should immediately respond to disinformation challenges, considering international experience and practice.
It is crucial to update and prepare strategic documents on disinformation and security (National Strategy on Countering Hybrid Threats, National Security Concept) to respond to modern challenges and growing disinformation threats.
It is important to develop media literacy and equip citizens with relevant skills to detect disinformation. In terms of media literacy, continuous education should be a priority – citizens should be constantly informed about the methods of disinformation and how to detect it.