Disinformation on Telegram in the Czech Republic: Organizational and Financial Backround

The organizational and financial background of disinformation actors is an under-researched aspect of the disinformation portfolio compared to the traditional approach of media monitoring and analysis. PSSI established itself as a pioneer in this research in the Czech Republic and also introduced it in Slovakia. How these actors operate, cooperate, and finance their activities (or financially profit from them) is crucial knowledge for configuring effective policies, as well as civic outreach that would counter the malign societal impact of this particular dimension of disinformation.

Specifically, the messaging application Telegram is a new hotbed for disinformation and conspiracy theories. It is an underregulated platform enabling community-building and fundraising for disinformation actors. Beyond the lack of regulation of this platform, there are issues of strengthened echo chambers, non-transparency, and higher potential for radicalization and hostile state information operations. Telegram is still mostly a black box. There is little to no know-how about the disinformation ecosystem on Telegram works and how to systematically monitor and analyze it. This gap is also addressed by the project activities.

The project aims to uncover the black box that Telegram represents, as well as its disinformation ecosystem, by launching a systematic research and mapping of this platform in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The findings should drive change by informing relevant stakeholders about this issue and encouraging them about the urgency of adopting policies and taking actions to counter this issue, as well as by building the general public’s resilience to disinformation and hostile government information operations.