A new EU Horizon project led by CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute) in Bergen, Norway, explores different mechanisms of authoritarian information suppression globally. Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and humanities is a partner in the project with work led by university researcher Matti Pohjonen from HSSH’s Methodological Unit.
The EU Horizon project ‘ARM: The long arm of authoritarian states’ aims to provide an in-depth conceptual and practical understanding of how authoritarian states worldwide have used and continue to use information suppression as a strategy to control the narratives that are told about them, also beyond their national borders. More specifically, the project will analyse how Russia, China, Ethiopia and Rwanda suppress and eradicate independent voices and information, with a special focus on how this information suppression affects EU states and diaspora communities that have settled in the EU. One outcome of the project will be a practitioners’ toolkit on how to counter it.
HSSH will lead a work plan on Ethiopia and will contribute to the project’s Ethics and Data Management. A Twitter dataset of over 90 million tweets on the Tigray War in Ethiopia (2020–2022) collected by Matti Pohjonen will be used in the project. The project will also host a PhD researcher participating in the project for the duration of three years.
“The dynamics through which different governments suppress information – not only through censorship but also by flooding the communication channels with noise and misinformation – is one of the most pressing questions in contemporary global digital politics. The new Horizon project will provide much-needed conceptual, methodological and empirical insight into understanding this growing phenomenon,” Matti Pohjonen notes.