HORIZON EUROPE FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME┋Developing a better understanding of information suppression by state authorities as an example of foreign information manipulation and interference



Expected Outcome

Projects should contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Better understanding on how to protect fundamental rights and freedoms from possible threats stemming from the use of information suppression as part of Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference (FIMI[1]) by authoritarian regimes.
  • In-depth conceptual and practical understanding of how authoritarian states worldwide have used and use information suppression – and the specific Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) involved – in their foreign policy, foreign information manipulation operations.
  • Increased understanding of the behavioural and societal effect – both short- and long-term – of information suppression.
  • Develop policy recommendations, toolkits and methodologies to detect and address information suppression in the EU, associated and third countries.


Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference (FIMI) goes beyond the much-used concept of “disinformation”, which focusses on the active promotion of messages and pushing out of false/misleading content. FIMI also includes other aspects of how the information environment and civic discourse can be manipulated, notably through the suppression of independent and critical voices. Information suppression can take many forms but has the opposite goal to active promotion of messages. It aims to eliminate – or suppress – from the public sphere certain voices or messages. Information suppression by authoritarian actors can be domestic but also reach outside of their borders. Domestic information suppression has been observed, for instance, surrounding the Russian invasion of Ukraine with a large scale crackdown on freedom of speech and freedom of the media (including social media) and cutting internet connections and access to mobile data use. Information suppression is also systematically employed by the Chinese Communist Party domestically but also outside of its borders.

Different facets of information suppression should be examined by means of multidisciplinary approaches bringing together historical, social, legal, political, behavioural and communication disciplines among others. Which countries outside the EU have used information suppression in a systematic manner as part of their policies and how could a conceptual definition of information suppression look like to incorporate all parts of such activity? This should include a collection of cases and examples of information suppression by different actors to establish such a conceptual definition and create an evidence base. The research should also look at both the domestic and cross-border dimensions of suppression and catalogue the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) that have been used to suppress information by different actors. This should focus on different aspects, ranging from the individual (harassment, intimidation, etc.)[2] to the society (restriction of fundamental rights and freedoms, including repression of women and minority rights) to the media (restriction of media freedom, pressuring foreign media outlets or journalists), academia (instigating self-censorship, using visa or archive access to pressure foreign researchers) as well as pressure on private industry (forcing social media companies to comply with national, authoritarian rules; using economic coercion to force international companies to be silent on certain issues, etc). A compendium of such TTPs should be created, with examples of such TTPs to document their use.

Information suppression can target any critical and independent voice; however, targeting the diaspora outside of the country’s territory has been observed as one vector. The research should generate an understanding of how diaspora communities are being targeted by information suppression and how FIMI actors try to co-opt them as agents of information suppression.

This research will generate a better understanding of the functioning of information suppression as well as its behavioural and societal effects (e.g. self-censorship etc.). This research should contribute to an analytical methodology of how to identify and analyse information suppression in its different forms; it should give policy recommendations on how to reduce the vulnerability to information suppression, how to protect the targets of information suppression and how to respond to it. The policy recommendations, toolkits and methodologies on how to identify information suppression and protect against it should be made accessible to civil society and stakeholders.

Proposals are encouraged to develop links and eventually use outcomes from the projects financed in particular under HORIZON-CL3-2021-FCT-01-03: Disinformation and fake news are combated and trust in the digital world is raised. Clustering and cooperation with other selected projects under this call and other relevant projects are strongly encouraged.

[1] Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference (FIMI) describes a mostly non-illegal pattern of behaviour in the information domain that threatens or has the potential to negatively impact values, procedures and political processes. Such activity is manipulative in character, conducted in an intentional and coordinated manner, often in relation to other hybrid activities. Actors of such activity can be state or non-state actors, including their proxies inside and outside of their own territory. FIMI is to be understood within the wider context of hybrid threats, of which it is one concrete modality. A conceptual model of hybrid threats can be found in “The landscape of hybrid threats” (https://op.europa.eu/s/vUUk )

[2]See the Commission’s initiative of 27 April 2022 to protect journalists and human rights defenders against the phenomenon of Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs).

Date de candidature
Humanités : Anthropologie & Ethnologie, Histoire, Philosophie, théologie et religion
Sciences sociales : Démographie, Droit, Economie, Géographie, Gestion et administration publique, Psychologie et sciences cognitives, Relations internationales, Science politique, Sciences de l'éducation, Sciences de l'information et de la communication, Sociologie