Angela Merkel Faces Fresh Challenge in Elections: Fake News from Russia, as per AFP Report

German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a tough election in Germany as people are against her government’s policies regarding refugees. Many Germans have openly condemned policies of Merkel after Germany suffered many terror attacks and German citizens are dealing with issues related to refugees on regular basis. Media reports suggest that Merkel is facing a new challenge, fake news promoted by Russia. A report published by AFP has claimed that Kremlin-backed fake news campaign aims to target elections in Germany, France and the Netherlands.

To deal with fake news issue, the European Union has setup East StratCom Task Force. The task force said that they have noticed many campaigns being run to discredit European leaders. In most of the cases, these campaigns are targeting poor handling of refugee crisis by the European Union. The task force noticed more than 2,500 stories in 18 different languages that were contradicting facts. German officials have pulled social network Facebook to take action against fake news. The task force was setup by the European Union in September 2015.

In its statement, the East StratCom Task Force said, “There is no doubt that the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign is an orchestrated strategy and it acts as a non-military measure for achieving political goals.”

The Netherlands faces elections in March this year. France is another major European country facing elections in April and May. German elections will be held in September and many surveys have suggested increasing support for parties against Merkel’s policies. However, Merkel still enjoys majority support in Germany. People opposing Merkel are confident that her popularity is decreasing with every passing day and there is a lot of time till September.

Additionally, the outcome of French and Dutch elections will have an impact on German voters. European leaders have indicated that misinformation on internet and social networks could impact election outcomes.

A recent report by the U.S. intelligence agencies has clearly indicated Russian role in President Donald Trump’s win in the U.S. elections. Trump has urged people to move on and has even denied role played by Russia in the U.S. elections but intelligence agencies have pressed the issue time and again.

As per DW report on the issues, “Justice Minister Heiko Maas last year said he feared that the spread of false information on the internet may unfairly influence the elections slated for September.”