Co-Inform Joins Workshop at International Cybercrime Conference

Author: Francesca Zuccotti, Digital Marketing & Communications Lead at Scytl

On behalf of the Co-Inform Consortium, Adrià Rodríguez-Pérez, Scytl’s Public Policy Researcher, has contributed to a workshop discussion on cybercrime, “fake news,” and election interference at the 2019 Octopus Conference.

The workshop, which took place on Friday, November 22nd, focused on malicious cyber activity and disinformation campaigns, paying particular attention to how these operations undermine election privacy and security and increase mistrust in democratic processes.

The workshop featured representatives from election management bodies, civil society organizations and other tech companies. The discussion was centered on the role and responsibility of the private sector to foster initiatives that combat e-threats to democracy and protect against disinformation-related cybercrimes. Adrià Rodríguez-Pérez presented the Co-Inform project as an example of such initiatives.

In the field of elections, the use of Co-Inform tools will allow addressing three main concerns: 

  1. The spread of malinformation, such as information about specific candidates that is not completely accurate or has been taken out of context. One example of this can be found in the spread of rumours about Emmanuel Macron that erupted two days before the second round of the French presidential elections in 2017. 
  2. To counter voter suppression techniques. For example, black voters were targeted with ads calling for a boycott of the US 2016 presidential election. More recently, ahead of the Spanish general election that was held in early November 2019, at least €28,687 were spent on voter suppression campaigns. Pictures of candidates with false messages calling for abstention appeared on posters in some cities and paid ads on Facebook. 
  3. Finally, Co-Inform tools will help to tackle the spread of disinformation about the organisation of elections. In recent months, Scytl has identified a series of false statements about the conduct of elections, including how technology is used in electoral processes. These campaigns usually target the Electoral Management Bodies and are aimed at raising suspicion about the organisation of elections, erode its legitimacy and call the results into question. If successful, this kind of campaigns could also have devastating effects.  


The Octopus Conference is organized by Cybercrime@Octopus, a Council of Europe project aimed at assisting countries worldwide in combatting cybercrime and strengthening data protection. The Octopus Conference provides one of the biggest and most well-respected platforms for exchanging ideas related to cybercrime, gathering experts from 80 countries who work in international organizations, the private sector, and academia. The conference has been held at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, from the 20th to 22nd of November.

* This is an edited version of the article that first appeared on

Co-Inform mission is to foster critical thinking and digital literacy. 

Academic surveys have shown that online misinformation is becoming more difficult to identify. Online misinformation has the potential to deceive even readers with strong literacy skills. Our goal is to provide citizens, journalists, and policymakers with tools to spot ‘fake news’ online, understand how they spread, and obtain access to verified information.

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Co-Inform Copyright 2021

Co-inform project is co-funded by Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)
Type of action: RIA (Research and Innovation action)
Proposal number: 770302

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