A new hub targeting the spread of disinformation online has been launched in Dublin City University (DCU).
DCU was selected by The European Commission as part of a network of eight hubs across Europe which aim to combat disinformation campaigns and improve public awareness of the issue.
“The Hub aims to maximise the great work already being done to counter disinformation in Ireland while providing a means to collaborate with partners across Europe,” said Dr Eileen Culloty, coordinator of the project.
The European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO) Ireland Hub brings together experts in media literacy from DCU, technological resources for predicting virality, artificial intelligence and the fact-checking capabilities of Irish online news outlet The Journal.
The Journal has been tracking misinformation on an Irish scale for the past six years and will collaborate with EDMO Ireland to “form a robust and holistic approach to the challenge of empowering the public with good quality information,” said Susan Daly, Managing Editor of Journal Media.
According to Deloitte Ireland’s latest Digital Consumer Trends report on digital usage and entertainment, “57% of people in Ireland struggle to tell the difference between real news and fake news.”
Culloty emphasised the importance of the project particularly in relation to the Russian War on Ukraine and EDMO releases weekly fact-checking reports regarding false narratives online surrounding the war.
The EDMO hub is supported by a range of stakeholders “committed to collaborating on countering disinformation, promoting media literacy, and supporting quality journalism.”
NewsWhip, a platform which predicts emerging topics hours in advance by analysing news websites and social media, will be involved in detecting disinformation online and predicting the virality of a narrative.
“Our real-time monitoring of web and social content, coupled with the specialist expertise of the other partners, will shed much needed light on this critical societal issue,” said Dervilla Mullan, Chief Product Officer of NewsWhip.
The Natural Language Processing Research Group at The University of Sheffield will also be working closely with the EDMO hub, providing “cutting edge AI technologies for analysing disinformation and supporting fact-checkers.”
“Working closely with the social scientists and fact-checkers in the Irish EDMO Hub we will be enhancing our AI technologies for disinformation analysis to better handle the cultural, linguistic, and geo-political specificities of disinformation in Ireland,” said Kalina Bontcheva, Professor of Text Analysis at The University of Sheffield.