The projects will address disinformation in many different ways, a relevant strand of projects will cover the European Elections in 2024, we can also see the increased integration of AI tool on the day-to-day of the newsrooms fact-checking and actions concentrating on health, technology and economic subjects.
These projects will cover multiple countries and linguistic communities, including Belgium, Finland, Netherlands, Poland, and Romania.
Get to know a bit more in detail the projects approved.
Fifth Funding Round Approved Projects
|Name of the Project: Electi Facts: Euro 2024|
|Lead Applicant: Headline News Facilities Productions (Belgium)|
|Grant Amount: 54,996.57 €|
From 6 to 9 June 2024, the first European elections since the pandemic and the start of the war in Ukraine will take place. A lot is at stake, as the results of these elections will largely determine the EU’s political direction from 2024 until 2029.
At the same time, European news gathering will be under severe pressure in 2024.
Mis- and disinformation will run rampant in what will be a major election year – not just in Europe but all over the world. The pandemic and other global developments have impacted the viability and spread of fake news in Europe, and that trend will only be amplified during the elections.
Additionally, new developments in generative AI are creating challenges for content verification processes that journalists aren’t prepared for.
As a result, many journalists covering EU news will not have enough time or resources for extensive fact-checks in the run-up to the European elections of 2024 – even though this is increasingly needed.
The project ‘Electi Facts: Euro 2024’ addresses that need. It will run from January until June 2024 and enable structural fact-checking of claims and statements made during/about the European elections. Electi Facts will help filter out disinformation in EU news coverage, which will benefit international journalists and, in turn, their respective audiences.
Electi Facts will be managed by the journalistic Research team of Headline News Facilities Productions in Brussels, whose members are all certified journalists who work as researcher-producers for international media. They will be joined by freelance fact-checkers.
The project includes the creation of a website, newsletter and podcast series to disseminate the fact-checks for free to journalists and fact-checkers covering EU news, as well as anyone interested. It will also include tailor-made training from College of Europe on fact-checking and fact-finding during the EU elections and a networking event to introduce the project to journalists in Brussels.
|Name of the Project: Aletheia|
|Lead Applicant: xDNA (Netherlands)|
|Grant Amount:€ 80,000|
The rise of Large Language Models and other AI-like botnet SaaS has made fact-checking more important than ever. These models can generate human-like text that may contain false information on a large scale and spread it through authentic-looking botnets. This increase in efficiency in generating and spreading factually incorrect information is problematic, as current fact-checking is incredibly time-consuming and done mostly manually. Therefore, this project will automate several parts of the fact-checking process and, in addition, feed the technical and methodological fact-checking methods by in-depth case analysis. We will develop several AI systems that will find relevant sources that can extract the different claims and cross-reference relevant statements. This automation will greatly increase the efficiency of fact-checking. In addition, there will be in-depth social media case analyses of false claims and related narratives that will expose the origins and dynamics of false information. Knowledge and insights on how and why these false narratives and claims are spread will help improve the fact-checking capability of a news agency both technically and methodologically. The project team is composed of three parties: xDNA, Tilt and a multimedia news agency fact-check team. xDNA will contribute with their broad expertise in the development of AI systems and develop the automation systems. The fact-check team, will provide relevant domain knowledge and fact-checking expertise. Tilt will bring in expertise and their AI-augmented research environment for online manipulation to provide a better understanding of the origins and dynamics of false information.
|Name of the Project: Fact-checking & Reliable European Information to Help Europe Integrate Together: The FREIHEIT Project|
|Lead Applicant: EURACTIV Media Network B.V. (Netherlands)|
|Grant Amount: € 79,610.60
The F.R.E.I.H.E.I.T Project’s overarching objective will be to capitalise on the previous TRUE INFO project, develop new and highly relevant content by broadening both the geographical and topical/thematic scope whilst keeping abreast of technological and policy developments around disinformation and building synergies with specialised professionals beyond Europe’s borders.
The project’s specific objectives are the following:
-Whilst further sustaining/producing fact-checked coverage on the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war, include key countries of Europe’s Eastern Neighbourhood, in the belief Russian, but also other foreign interference to be threatening and undermining their path to democracy.
-Raising awareness on topics of public interest that may be potential targets of disinformation, such as energy, agriculture, security and migration, which are highly relevant for both Europe and the Eastern Neighbourhood.
-Empower a diverse and complementary range of freelance journalists from these regions and contribute to creating a network of fact-checkers by fostering the exchange of practices between media, academia and civil society.
EURACTIV will produce 5 categories of activities, one of them being The Capitals, EURACTIV’s flagship newsletter. Six Special editions of the newsletter will be produced, focusing on the Eastern Neighbourhood and including contributions by six freelance journalists from these countries. These will cover disinformation in the Eastern Neighbourhood, particularly driven by Russian propaganda, in four areas: agriculture, energy, migration and security.
The project will conclude itself with a Final Forum, aimed at gathering freelance journalists, aspiring fact checkers, civil society, and European policymakers and at contributing to the creation of a network of freelancers involved in the fight against disinformation. This event will be followed by a report including three articles providing policy recommendations on the topic.
During the project, there will be ongoing fact-checking and social media promotion.
|Name of the Project: Keeping Finland in the European fact-checking networks in view of Presidential and EP elections|
|Lead Applicant: Open Society Association Finland (Finland)|
|Grant Amount: € 54,714.88|
This project is designed to keep Finland part of the important European fact-checking networks in view of Presidential and EP elections in 2024. The goal is to contribute fully to the joint fact-checking and awareness-raising activities in time of digital information wars, while at the same time seeking to catalyse the verification work of Finnish traditional media houses for maximum impact. This is done by continuously monitoring social media and by fact-checking claims that are likely to confuse or spread false information. Along politicians, our focus will be on fact-checking information ecosystem-related claims – to focus on domestic actors and online platform dynamics. Faktabaari will also produce digital information literacy videos aimed especially at young audiences to empower them to check information on their own and to learn new things about our digital environment.
|Name of the Project: Breaking Barriers: Polish-Ukrainian United Against Disinformation|
|Lead Applicant: Foundation “Counteracting Disinformation” (Poland)|
|Grant Amount: € 52,560.00|
The “Breaking Barriers: Polish-Ukrainian United Against Disinformation” project aims to tackle the pressing issue of misinformation, particularly in the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Leveraging the power of digital media, we reach out to audiences through popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others, delivering verified information in Polish, Ukrainian, and English. Building upon our successful activities from 2022, we’re expanding to include a Ukrainian version of our digital presence.
We’re collaborating with Ukrainian organisations to craft content tailored for Ukrainian citizens and refugees. The project is designed to produce and promote fact-checked articles, targeting the most damaging false narratives. Our ultimate goal is to empower the public to distinguish truth from falsehood, thereby reducing the detrimental impact of disinformation. As a beacon of truth, “Breaking Barriers” stands committed to fostering unity, supporting democratic processes, and ensuring access to reliable information for all.
|Name of the Project: Can we verify this? Fact-checking on health, technology and economics at OKO.press|
|Lead Applicant: Foundation Center for Civic Control OKO (Poland)
|Grant Amount: € 79,985.04|
OKO.press, a modern, independent Polish medium (at the top of Polish online media according to Reuters’), provides a wide audience with reliable journalistic content without a paywall, ads and sponsored content. Since 2016, it has been working for democracy, the rule of law and the public interest by providing high-quality content in fact-checking, debunking and investigative journalism formats. The 12-month project “Can we verify this? Fact-checking on health, technology and economics at OKO.press” is aimed at boosting the number of fact-checking on topics that happen to be, apart from politics, regularly the subject of misinformation practises, i.e., health, technology and economics. Its goals are also to raise awareness among the general audience and contribute to the popularisation of fact-checking formats. Additionally, it is also aimed at diversifying journalistic materials on these topics available in Poland, which now are restricted to explainers and general articles on these issues. The materials will be published in both text and video formats on OKO.press’ weekly edition. By focusing on these topics and testing this new combination of theme and format, OKO.press wants to answer the already existing need among the core audience of the outlet and widen its audience and address the needs of the users who are not yet readers of OKO.press, thus strengthening the outlet in the longer perspective.
|Name of the Project: FactSphere: Exposing Disinformation for Public Awareness in the Black Sea Region|
|Lead Applicant: Expert Forum Association (Romania)|
|Grant Amount: € 79,936.35|
FactSphere: Exposing Disinformation for Public Awareness in the Black Sea Region
This intervention builds on the existing knowledge, expertise and networking capacity of EFOR acquired in previous projects in order to refine and increase the visibility of the analysis of disinformation campaigns related to the war in Ukraine. More precisely, we will focus on the most sensitive narratives which are today amplified by the Russian aggression and target the region of Eastern Europe: the attempts to erode support for Ukraine in local societies, including by projecting a negative image of the refugees, exploiting in a manipulative way historical episodes from the two world wars of the 20th century, in order to revive petty nationalisms with political potential today; based on this, recycle in endless loops anti-NATO and anti-American cultural clichés; and in the same manner undermine the EU project with war-related conspiracies.
To achieve these goals, EFOR will cooperate with Moldovan and Ukrainian partners to create a good framework for monitoring; then we will deploy quantitative social market analysis tools we have used in the past (Crowdtangle, Pulsar, other new tools to analyse video content) to document relevant channels, topics and influencers; and finally we will cooperate with independent and reputable media platforms in the Romanian language to distribute our conclusions and products to the wider public, both in Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
A newsletter will be published regularly with the most interesting findings, targeting opinion leaders in the two countries. The analysis will also be repackaged in the form of teaching materials to be used in EFOR’s series of civic education activities we carry out regularly in high schools. Three events will also be organised, in Brussels, Bucharest and Chişinău, each targeting different groups of decision-makers to raise awareness of the deeper, subtle, but powerful social effects of the fake news which circulate in our region on the eve of the 2024 European elections.
The sixth cut-off date of the ongoing Boosting Fact-Checking Activities in Europe call will be on 31 October 2023.