Fighting the spread of foreign disinformation in the COVID era

Which states are looking to alter narratives amidst this crisis? How can we look to mitigate and combat such narratives?

About this Event

The COVID-19 outbreak that began in China has since evolved into a global pandemic, resulting in mass quarantines, lockdowns, accelerating fatalities, and an unprecedented global economic slowdown.

China in particular has been working in overdrive in recent weeks to alter the narrative on the rapidly evolving crisis, openly spreading false narratives and conspiracy theories, including that the virus may have originated in either Italy or as a biological weapon from the US. Yet China is not alone. As the European Union has warned, Russian disinformation about COVID-19 was also putting lives at risk. In addition to suppressing information about the virus’s spread in Russia, state media platform Sputnik promoted false narratives about the origins of coronavirus, speciously suggesting that it originated in Latvia, where Canada is leading NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.

Both countries have also been looking to implement narrative-changing moves in other ways too. China has recently sent “aid” shipments to several of those affected countries in Europe, such as Spain, Netherlands and Italy. Yet reports indicate some of these supplies have been defective. Meanwhile, Russia’s recent “aid” delivery to Italy – of which 80 percent was discovered to be “useless” according to a recent report – was clearly part of what the EU’s foreign policy chief has identified as a “struggle for influence through spinning and the politics of generosity.”

To shed light on these issues, MLI will host a webinar bringing together experts to answer key questions about this flood of disinformation in the COVID era. How are states looking to alter narratives amidst the crisis. What are their methods and have they changed? How can democracies look to mitigate and combat such narratives? What are the dangers of an authoritarian narrative? Why do democracies do a better job?

Event Details

  • Time: 1 pm – 2:00 pm EDT (convert to your local time here)
  • Date: Thursday, June 11, 2020
  • Location: This is an online event. We will share the link with registered attendees.


  • Michael Weiss, Editor-at-Large, Daily Beast
  • Suzanne Spaulding, Director of the Defending Democratic Institutions Project at Center for Strategic & International Studies
  • Charles Burton, MLI Senior Fellow


  • Marcus Kolga, MLI Senior Fellow


I would like to ask a question to be answered by the panel. How can I do that?

We recommend submitting questions to the panelists before the event using this form:

By using this form, you will help us keep all of the questions together in one place. We will get through as many questions as time allows during the event.

How can I attend this event?

This will be an online-only event. To attend, please register here and you will be sent the link to the live video feed. A reminder email will be sent two hours before the event begins, and this email will also contain the link to the event video.

What if I can’t attend the event at the scheduled time?

A link to the event video will be emailed to all registrants after the event ends, so you will be able to watch the recording later. Additionally, if you want to ask a question, you can submit your question to the panel in advance of the event through this form:

Special thanks to our sponsor:

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