Media Literacy

Baltic Centre of Media Excellence signed a long-term partnership and cooperation agreement with Google

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Baltic Centre of Media Excellence signed a long-term partnership and cooperation agreement with Google

Google offering long-term support to Latvia-based Baltic Centre for Media Excellence in the fight against disinformation in the region


Baltic Centre of Media Excellence (BCME), a Latvia-based platform for smart journalism delivering media trainings to newsrooms and researching propaganda techniques, signed a long-term partnership and cooperation agreement with Google. Thanks to Google's funding, BCME will be working towards strengthening the resilience of both newsrooms as well as local communities towards Russian disinformation activities in the region. This cooperation follows Google's wider commitment to addressing the misinformation that is spreading about the war in Ukraine. At the outbreak of the war, the company promised to invest more than $10 million into this effort, including the investment into new partnerships with think tanks and NGO's as well as cash grants to support fact checking networks. In the Baltic States only, Google will provide $1.4 million for resilience-building activities.


While a quarter of Latvians are sure that they are not exposed to disinformation in the media, 72% say they are regularly (17%) or occasionally (55%) exposed to it. This was revealed in a survey carried out in the CEE and the Baltics by the IPSOS agency, which Google helped to fund. The survey's results also show that every 8 out of 10 Latvians or 80,5% of people in our country question the truthfulness of the information they see in the media or on social networks. 41% of respondents view strengthening media literacy as a way to fight the spread of misinformation positively. It is notable that 40% also fully agree that there is a need to support fact-checking journalism and the creation of appropriate platforms. These results confirm the fundamental importance to support initiatives to combat disinformation in Latvia.


“Thanks to Google's funding, we'll be able to kick start the Resilient Baltics project,” says Gunta Sloga, the Executive Director of BCME. “We'll be able to start working with media communities and most vulnerable groups in order to make them more aware and thus more resilient towards propaganda, disinformation and other threats the Baltic region faces nowadays. The war in Ukraine has showed that it's the community's resilience that's extremely important and we are happy Google's funding will support us in this work.”


"Latvia's concept for strengthening the security of the information space is based on three pillars: strong strategic communication capabilities of the public administration; independent, high-quality and safe media environment, as well as society's resistance to manipulation based on strong media literacy and information literacy," says Dr. Rihards Bambals, Director of the Communication department of the Strategic Office of the State Chancellery of Latvia. "Lasting peace in Europe can only be brought through Ukraine's victory and Russia's loss. However, even after the war, Russia's hostile attitude towards Western democracies including the Baltic states, will remain. Including the information warfare capabilities. Therefore, it is important to build resilience against security risks in the long term, which is possible only by involving the entire state administration, media and wider society, including non-governmental, private and academic sector. Responsible actions by platforms such as Google will play a critical role in protecting democracies from information influencing operations”.

Ieva Ilves, the Advisor to the President of Latvia commented on the partnership: “There isn’t one solution or “silver bullet” to fight the disease of disinformation, but if we join the efforts of public, private and non-governmental sectors at national and international levels, I am confident – we will succeed. We welcome Google’s commitment to work together and invest in the work of our regional experts”.

“Every day, millions of people use Google and YouTube to access accurate information. Ever since the start of the war, we have been connecting people with high-quality information and removed more than 80 thousand videos and 9 thousand channels related to the war for violating our policies — and blocked more than 4 million videos associated with Russian state-funded news, globally,” says Vytautas Kubilius, Country Director for Google in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. “We take the challenge of fighting the spread of misinformation online very seriously, but it’s not something we can do alone. This is why we cooperate with the wider industry, deliver support to fact-checkers and academics and are one of the signatories of the strengthened EU Code of Practice on Disinformation.”


Part of the Google grant for the Baltic region will also go to the Lithuanian non-governmental organisation Civic Resilience Initiative to conduct a research project on the misuse of social media platforms and other communication channels perpetrated by China, Russia and local disinformation actors and its impact on democratic processes in the Baltic States. The organisation will also develop a media literacy programme and engaging learning materials for young audiences in all three Baltic States.


Support for the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence and the Civic Resilience Initiative builds on already announced projects, such as the grant of $13,2 million to International Fact Checking Network, which supports 135 organisations across 65 countries. TechSoup Europe, which will help non-profit organisations use technology to advance the fight against disinformation, will receive a $2.5M grant from the philanthropic structure Another grant will go to the Demagog fact checkers, in order for them to strengthen the fact-checking ecosystem in the CEE region.


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