Established in 2016, the Beacon Project leverages IRI’s 34 years of experience in European politics. For over five years, it has worked with leading CSOs specialized in Russian disinformation to generate data-driven insights, provide access to key partners, and spur strategic action against hostile external influences. The Beacon Project has provided valuable data and shifted the debate on disinformation to be more targeted toward the exact sources and vulnerabilities within societies. While many current initiatives are focused on countering disinformation with fact-checking or satire, the Beacon Project is unique in its attention to in-depth data-driven analyses of disinformation sources and narratives as well as the impact these campaigns have on society and the stability of democratic institutions.
The Beacon Project is a recognized and respected voice that has moved the NATO StratCom Center of Excellence in Riga, Latvia to request a more formal partnership with IRI and the Government Accountability Office to interview Beacon Project staff as part of U.S. Senator Chris Murphy’s research on disinformation in Europe. Furthermore, IRI’s Brussels field office presence has enabled the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to the EU to call upon the Beacon Project for detailed briefings on relevant issues. Additionally, IRI received funding from NATO Public Diplomacy Division to complete public opinion polling in the Western Balkans. Most recently, IRI received funding from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and the Office of International Religious Freedom (State DRL/IRF) to develop a publication on Antisemitism in the Western Balkans.
Since 2016, IRI has supported the publication of 175 research publications from 16 different countries, including the new EU members, the Western Balkans, and former Soviet states. When possible, research findings are made public on IRI’s Beacon Project website. IRI’s experience in this field resulted in the publication of a Media Monitoring Handbook, made available to the public, outlining best practices for conducting media monitoring from the development of a methodology to effective data visualization. In an effort to promote data visualization, the Beacon Project developed a series of data dashboards and will continue to develop them in coordination with partners’ research. Over the last five years, IRI has grown the number of active partners in its network from the same countries by 356%.