Organizational and Financial Background of Disinformation Actors in the Czech Republic

Natália Tkáčová, Kristína Šefčíková, Prague Security Studies Institute / 20 Jun 2023

The Czech Republic’s disinformation scene consisted mainly of alternative online outlets spreading disinformation and conspiracies in the past, roughly until the Covid-19 pandemic. They were mostly non-transparent, by default hiding and obfuscating their ownership structure, contributors, and financing. However, this scene has diversified significantly in recent years due to the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and domestic political and economic developments. It now also consists of civil movements of "freedom fighters," influencers, celebrities, far-right/left politicians and individuals who began to engage in the disinformation discourse for their personal interest, for example to cover their debts or enter politics. 

Current research into disinformation usually focuses on the content these actors create and spread. However, efforts to curb disinformation actors’ activities also require understanding of their motivation, way of operation and business models. Spread of disinformation has proven to be a potentially financially profitable business in our previous research and this financial motivation adds a new dimension to the societal risk posed by disinformation spreaders.

Therefore, the focus of the present research is the organizational and financial background of disinformation actors in the Czech Republic. The following chapters will introduce what entities are currently active on the Czech disinformation scene, their motivation, and modus operandi, financial background, messaging, and relations between them. Understanding of these attributes is crucial for effective countering of the spread of disinformation, potential coordinated disinformation campaigns and potential sources of foreign malign influence. Such knowledge also helps strengthen efforts based on cutting off the funding streams of disinformation actors.