The organizational and financial background of disinformation sources is still an under-researched field in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Indeed, their disinformation scenes are complexly interconnected and often work in tandem. The scene of more traditional and established conspiracy outlets has been diversified due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the war on Ukraine and domestic political developments. It now also consists of civil movements of “freedom fighters”, influencers, celebrities, and even individuals who began to engage in the disinformation and pro-Kremlin discourse for their personal interest (for example to cover their debts or avoid foreclosure). The spread of disinformation has also proven to be a potentially financially profitable business and has become a cornerstone of the business model of some media outlets, according to our previous research.
This project constitutes another element in our overall effort to promote the implementation of long-term and systematic countering of the spread of disinformation, including for financial gains. By informing relevant government stakeholders on the organizational and financial background of the disinformation scene, we want to help develop policies that can effectively counter this hybrid threat and counter the spread of disinformation using tools such as defunding. Moreover, we want to discourage consumption of disinformation based on the argument of financial exploitation of the audience carried out by disinformation perpetrators. Finally, the project aims to build strong partnerships between Czech and Slovak researchers and stakeholders, supporting exchange of know-how and best practices related to countering disinformation in their interconnected information space.