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European Horizon 2020 projects join forces in the fight against misinformation

AuthorsMattias Svahn, Myrsini Glinos, Ulrika Kihlblom, and Nikos Sarris

To strengthen the work in supporting journalists in their everyday work, Co-Inform and SOMA (Social Observatory for Disinformation and Social Media Analysis) are joining forces. We have integrated our tools, and we will also run a co-collaborative workshop where we test our tools with journalists.  

Without unbiased, relevant, comprehensible and varied media information, media users cannot act as well-informed, competent and active citizens in a democracy. And how shall media users get that? When journalists struggle to stay ahead of the misinformation flow, democracy also struggles.

“We combine forces to strengthen democracy. Protecting real information and improving transparency and quality in journalism, is in the interest of all journalists and society as a whole,” says Mattias Svahn, Project Coordinator, Co-Inform.

Co-Inform and SOMA have joined forces because we share a common objective, to give journalists and other stakeholders the ability to identify and assess misinformation on social media. We have also determined that together we have the potential to offer a better solution by combining our already functional tools.

Integrated functions empower increased fact-checking

Co-Inform has a comprehensive user-oriented tool, the Co-Inform Plugin. It gives citizens automatic identification and alerts them to misinformation. It also lets the user give feedback about the plug-ins´ misinformation identifications if the user disagrees with the machines´ judgement.

SOMA has set-up a collaborative workspace for the members of the European Observatory against Disinformation (www.disinfobservatory.org) based on Truly Media, a collaborative platform for verification with many tools to facilitate the fact-checking of information found on-line.

Thanks to this technological collaboration, citizens will be able to operate a user-oriented tool that sends elements to be analysed (fact-checked) to the SOMA observatory community. Then the result of fact-checking can be sent back to the user. With that, we open a way for the broad everyday user to intercommunicate with and co-create with both human and machine learning-based fact-checking agents. This for the sake of identifying misinformation, and so achieve one of the essential points of Co-Inform; increased interaction between fact-checking and the general public.

“This integration adds value to SOMA, Co-Inform and eventually the community fighting against disinformation as it integrates useful front-end with back-functionalities developed by the two projects,” says Nikos Sarris, Project Coordinator SOMA.

Journalists will evaluate the usability of the tools

It is also vital to validate that the tools developed in European projects meet the needs of the user. Therefore, Co-Inform and SOMA will work together in a workshop in the coming months, where invited journalists will come together to test and evaluate the tools. The feedback will help us improve the tools and make sure shortcomings or errors are addressed. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, the workshops will more likely take place online. More information will be communicated soon, so stay tuned!

The battle against misinformation requires participation and interaction

We have learned during our Co-Inform project that the fight against misinformation cannot be solved just with the use of a fully automated misinformation identification tool (with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning). Constant participation and interaction between both the final information users (in our case, the social media users) and the fact-checking agents are also necessary to identify new sources of misinformation.

“By providing easy-to-use tools that allow co-creation and interaction, we are giving the ability to give life to a new way of constant identification of new sources of misinformation, and also fixing the possible wrongly identified sources of misinformation,” says Mattias Svahn.

It is now more than ever that we need cross-country and cross-disciplinary collaboration between projects to fight misinformation. By sharing knowledge, technology and best practices, we hope to pave the way towards more informed and compelling journalism. A quote from one of our participants in the previous workshops encapsulates this very well:

“I am a Journalist, and I adopt a cross-reference information tactic before publishing news in the media. Usually, Journalists always need our primary source to be accurate, or if we assume that we have a trust, always there should be a second confirmation that is our journalist roles. So, I am keen to take part in workshops to give input in the design of fact-checking tools. I think that in future, such tools will help all stakeholders, including journalists through useful fact-check functionalities like cross-referencing information about a news story.”

In our collaboration, that future is now here!

Co-Inform’s mission is to foster critical thinking and digital literacy. 

Academic surveys have shown that online misinformation is becoming more difficult to identify. Online misinformation has the potential to deceive even readers with strong literacy skills. Our goal is to provide citizens, journalists, and policymakers with tools to spot ‘fake news’ online, understand how they spread, and obtain access to verified information.

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Co-Inform Copyright 2019
Disclaimer

Co-inform project is co-funded by Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)
H2020-SC6-CO-CREATION-2016-2017 (CO-CREATION FOR GROWTH AND INCLUSION)
Type of action: RIA (Research and Innovation action)
Proposal number: 770302

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