In the first round of the Czech presidential election earlier this month, Jiri Drahos was variously portrayed — without substantiation — as a pedophile, a thief, and a communist collaborator. The smears were part of a string of unfounded allegations in social media and on websites suspected of dealing in fake news. Now that the pro-Europe challenger’s campaign in a second-round runoff against incumbent Milos Zeman, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strongest allies in central Europe, is in full swing, the disinformation gloves have come off once again.
Within days of the start of the runoff, which will culminate in balloting on January 26-27, pro-Zeman websites and social media were sending out messages and publishing ads accusing the 68-year-old scientist of seeking to open the country’s borders to immigrants, playing on local fears of a possible influx of Muslim extremists.
“The deciding factor [in the second round] is expected to be the intensive disinformation campaign directed against Professor Drahos,” says Jakub Janda, deputy director of the European Values think tank in Prague.
Full Article: Fake News Kicks Into High Gear In Czech Presidential Runoff.