Weaponizing Social Media in Geopolitics (cepStudy)


Lithium, cobalt, rare earths: The energy transition has sparked a global battle for critical raw materials. This war now also threatens to be fought on social media platforms such as Twitter (X). Possible weapons: Disinformation, fake news, and propaganda. This is the result of a study by the Centre for European Policy (cep).


"Europe wants to become more strategically independent. Targeted misinformation and falsehoods in the digital space threaten the European Union's planned raw materials strategy. Social media offer an ideal gateway for manipulation," says cep economist André Wolf. Together with cep digital expert Anselm Küsters, he has analysed a significantly large pool of Twitter data for the first time.

The researchers analysed a total of around four million tweets with 126 million words that were written between 2012 and 2022. The focus was on particularly influential tweets about critical raw materials, as defined by the EU, as well as messages from the most important 234 international associations and companies. "We clearly see that the EU is not sufficiently protected in digital networks. We detected numerous examples on Twitter that prove how EU projects are being actively undermined through disinformation," says Küsters. He is convinced that countries that have dominated the market to date, such as China, are deliberately seeking to counter Europe's efforts to achieve resource independence.

The Commission recently reached an agreement on the Critical Raw Materials Act in the so-called trialogue negotiations with the Council and Parliament. It is intended to define the EU's raw materials strategy for the coming years. "We are calling on the EU to close the gateways for manipulation before it is too late.  The Critical Raw Materials Act ignores the dangers and threats from the digital space," emphasises Küsters.