When it comes to fighting Russian disinformation, seemingly no country does it better than
Lithuania. A couple of articles ago, when I talked to the Chief Press Specialist at the Lithuanian Ministry of Health, he suggested that I take a look at what DebunkEU was doing in this ongoing battle.
When I viewed the Truth as a Weapon documentary (there's an article about it on the organization's website), I knew right then that I wanted to interview some of the workers from this outstanding think tank, one that's full of motivated people who consistently seek out and eliminate fake news from Russia, 24 hours a day.
I contacted the owner of DebunkEU, Mr. Viktoras Dauksas, and he suggested that I talk to one of his best colleagues, who happened to be the same pretty Lithuanian lady in glasses from the documentary, Ms. Karina Urbanaviciute.
Before I get into the helpful info that she gave me in our interview, let me just say that I think that it's so cool how the country of Lithuania has what DebunkEU refers to as an "army of Online Elves", who are, as I explained in an earlier article, volunteer Troll fighters. After digging into this subject of Kremlin disinformation for the past few weeks, I've made the decision to wholeheartedly believe that DebunkEU is undoubtedly one of the very best organizations in the world today who, day in and day out, rigorously and consistently battle this untrue plague of propaganda from Russia.
Karina Urbanaviciute plays a vital role in the company as its Project Manager. In the documentary I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, there's one scene, where she was seemingly nervous to do a presentation in front of a video camera, which was completely contradictory to me in my experience with her, because she didn't seem like a shy-typed person at all. Karina is all smiles on her Facebook page (shoot her a bunch of likes and follow her…do it now), but don't let her warm and pleasant demeanor fool you. When you view the hour-long documentary, you'll see for yourself that this humble, soft-spoken lady is actually one of the most spearheaded, dogmatic fake news exposers on the planet. To put it to you simple and plain…Karina don't play no games!
"DebunkEU.org is an independent technology think tank and non-governmental organization that researches disinformation and runs educational media literacy campaigns," Ms. Urbanaviciute told me. "DebunkEU.org provides disinformation analyses in Baltic countries, Poland, Georgia and Montenegro, as well as in the United States and North Macedonia together with our partners."
"So where are y'all located exactly?" I asked.
"That I cannot disclose, Limus," she responded, "because of safety reasons. But our team is scattered in several countries."
I felt silly after asking her that, because that's the exact same reason why I myself won't say publicly whether or not I'm actually a Cyber Elf, at least not yet (wink wink).
"We work in two directions mainly," Ms. Urbanaviciute continued, "disinformation analysis and media literacy. The former is focused on monitoring trends arising in hostile media sources, our team mainly works on analyzing content in Russian-state related media. And, the latter is a more long-term solution to the disinformation issue."
"With media literacy projects we are aiming to raise the resilience to disinformation of citizens in the Baltics and Balkans" she continued. "Last year, we developed a digital course for students, which is meant to give them basic skills on how to recognise disinformation online."
"Now that sounds like exactly what I was looking for," I thought to myself during the interview. "How many people do you have in the entire company?" I asked.
"Now our team has twelve full-time employees," she responded. "We've been working in the field of countering disinformation for the last five years."
I was just about to ask Ms. Urbanaviciute how to officially become a soldier in the army of Online Elves. The keen, subtle mental strategist must have read my mind, because she immediately shot me just the tools I needed if I wanted to assist DebunkEU as one of the thousands of volunteer "keyboard warriors".
She showed me two courses that are there at the think tank's website. "As for the advice on how to contribute to the work of the Elves," she said, "I suggest you contact Ričardas and Giedrius. They are both active on Facebook, and they would have way better advice since they work in this field daily. For now, Limus, here are two courses for you to study. This one is aimed at analysts, those who want to gain more in-depth knowledge, and this one is meant to provide the basics, a better place to start for the beginners."
I thanked Ms. Urbanaviciute for her time, then visited the course links. The Civic Resilience
So, I'm going to take them myself this week, and let you guys know how everything went in my next article.
Until then, be safe, and please keep praying for Ukraine.
Welcome to the discussion.