Examining the tech stacks of Czech and Slovak untrustworthy websites

by   Jozef Michal Mintal, et al.

The burgeoning of misleading or false information spread by untrustworthy websites has, without doubt, created a dangerous concoction. Thus, it is not a surprise that the threat posed by untrustworthy websites has emerged as a central concern on the public agenda in many countries, including Czechia and Slovakia. However, combating this harmful phenomenon has proven to be difficult, with approaches primarily focusing on tackling consequences instead of prevention, as websites are routinely seen as quasi-sovereign organisms. Websites, however, rely upon a host of service providers, which, in a way, hold substantial power over them. Notwithstanding the apparent power hold by such tech stack layers, scholarship on this topic remains largely limited. This article contributes to this small body of knowledge by providing a first-of-its-kind systematic mapping of the back-end infrastructural support that makes up the tech stacks of Czech and Slovak untrustworthy websites. Our approach is based on collecting and analyzing data on top-level domain operators, domain name Registrars, email providers, web hosting providers, and utilized website tracking technologies of 150 Czech and Slovak untrustworthy websites. Our findings show that the Czech and Slovak untrustworthy website landscape relies on a vast number of back-end services spread across multiple countries, but in key tech stack layers is nevertheless still heavily dominated by locally based companies. Finally, given our findings, we discuss various possible avenues of utilizing the numeral tech stack layers in combating online disinformation.


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