The projects will address disinformation in many different ways, such as election-targeted disinformation, pre-bunking initiatives, climate, and science communication.
They will cover multiple countries and linguistic communities, including Bulgaria, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Ukraine.
Get to know a bit more in detail about the projects approved.
|Name of the Project: Supporting Ukrainian Media to Develop Fact-checking Activities in the Context of the War
|Lead Applicant: Agence France Presse (France)
|Grant Amount: €80,000
More than one year after the start of the war in Ukraine, public opinions are still faced with an unrelenting wave of disinformation campaigns used as an operational tool. Multiple examples have shown how fact-checking is essential for the coverage of this war. According to the OECD, Russia’s war against Ukraine is highlighting “the urgent challenges of responding to the threats posed bey the spread of disinformation while maintaining an independent media sector capable of informing the public”. This is what this project is about. The international AFP news agency, a global leader in the field of digital verification with an established bureau and team in Kyiv itself, has already been successful, as part of a first “urgent action” program of the Gulbenkian Foundation, in helping a new media in Ukraine, the national news agency Ukrinform, starting a local fact-check production despite difficult conditions. With this scale up- project, we will go one step further by:
Ukrinform offers a unique multiplier impact to broaden the fact-checking ecosystem in the country: most Ukrainian media are clients of this organization, thus ensuring large and quick dissemination. The involvement of Kyiv Post will increase the awareness of the Ukrainian people towards disinformation not only inside but also outside Ukraine. This outlet has a strong reach with the diaspora in the EU. The UN estimates that 8 million Ukrainians have fled their country since the start of the war.
|Name of the Project: HOTLINE. A weekly newsletter on climate change and disinformation narratives
|Lead Applicant: The Fact-Checking Factory LLC (Italy)
|Grant Amount: €48,551.93
HOTLINE is an Italian weekly newsletter dedicated to climate change and related mis- and disinformation. Professionals with complementary expertises on tackling climate change misinformation have joined their forces to tailor their common efforts to actor, behavioral, and content trends that are unique to climate change.
The project team combines extensive experience in fact-checking, specialization in climate-related reporting, and expertise in effective engagement and dissemination techniques. It is composed of two partners sharing the same commitment to quality journalism and contrast of mis- and disinformation (Facta https://facta.news/ and Slow News (https://www.slow-news.com), and two science journalists/authors with outstanding work in the area of climate change disinformation (Fabio Deotto and Stella Levantesi).
The newsletter will be a standalone editorial product. 20 issues, in Italian, will be produced during the project lifetime, sent to its subscribers once a week for five months. The product is tailored for a young Italian audience with an interest in climate change and/or disinformation but no specific scientific background. Target audience will be provided with a reference media product tackling climate change from a rigorous perspective and adequately addressing the issue of mis- and disinformation in the field. Readers will be offered the possibility to contribute to shaping the product contents according to their needs and interests, based on a community-centered approach.
The strengths of this project rely on Facta’s experience with fact-checking and connection with all major fact-checking networks; Slow News’ specialization and experience in lead generation, newsletter design, community management and dissemination; the two authors’ expertise in the area of climate change disinformation and their visibility and large online
|Name of the Project: Combat disinformation in a sustainable way – COMDISWAY
|Lead Applicant: AEJ, LLC (Bulgaria)
|Grant Amount: €54,955
The project aims to develop a systematic and sustainable strategy to tackle the disinformation in Bulgaria related to critical events. The forthcoming local and probably once again parliamentary elections are expected to nourish the widespread disinformation in the country, putting in local context the big narratives related also to the war in Ukraine – i.e. anti-EU, anti-NATO, anti liberal propaganda.
The project rationale is to fight the disinformation with a model that involves prebunking, debunking and updates on the most sensitive topics which, based on our experience, will be part once again of the disinformation landscape.
The project’ team will search for disinformation in two ways – in the isolated Bulgarian Facebook groups and through international partnerships (the IFCN, Science+) and other fact-checking platforms (EDMO, EU vs Disinfo). This way, the project will be able to address both local disinformation discourses and major narratives popular in Central and Eastern European countries.
The target audiences of the project are the media professionals, civil society representatives, experts, academicians working on the topic of disinformation and the ordinary citizens in Bulgaria.
|Name of the Project: FRAME (Fact-Checking Reinforced by AI for Media outlets)
|Lead Applicant: Les Surligneurs (France)
|Grant Amount: €79,831.46
Fact-checking is about tracing and debunking disinformation campaigns, but doing so requires being able to monitor the use of certain keywords by public figures.
If there is a wide range of private actors for social listening, there is only one French actor that provides TV/radio listening (pluralisme.fr). What if we could combine social listening and TV/radio listening? It would certainly help with the tracing of disinformation campaigns in the public debate, without focusing solely on social media. This is FRAME, Fact-checking renforcé par Apprentissage automatique pour les médias.
Moreover, what if there was a tool that could match statements of public figures in video and audio, with everything a media outlet has previously fact-checked? This would be of great value: once a statement containing disinformation has been fact-checked, you could then monitor the reactions to the fact-checks: does the claim continue spreading? If so, who spreads it, where and on which platform? You could then reuse the original fact-checked content, albeit slightly modified for the present case, for fast and efficient fact-checking. It would also be useful for studies on the spread of disinformation and the impact of fact-checking. Moreover, the public could be given access to a public version and verify the spread of a statement.
FRAME is not automated fact-checking, but it would support fact-checkers’ daily work.
At first, FRAME aims at using machine-learning models using spoken language processing to help Les Surligneurs detect and trace law-related disinformation campaigns. At a later stage, other interested fact-checking organisations will be able to adapt the tool to their own publications.
The grant will fund access to a platform using state-of-the-art technology that aggregates automatic transcripts of audio and video sources containing the statements of public figures. Filters will be set up to search for statements according to different criteria.
|Name of the Project: Training critical thinking & verification of information in Suburban Schools Libraries across Italy
|Lead Applicant: Biblioteche Senza Frontiere (Italia)
|Grant Amount: €54,998
With this project, Biblioteche Senza Frontiere (BSF) and Data Ninja will settle five fact-checking newsrooms as an integral part of BSF “emergency multicultural and multicultural libraries” in Italian suburban schools for 6 months. The contemporary challenges linked to information disorder, emphasized during emergencies, and the exponential evolution of technology generating and manipulating visual and text information, determine an urgent need for the definition of educational strategies – above all for those who are overwhelmed by emotional burden due to war conflicts and forced migration. Through a cross-sectoral approach – based on a consortium which combines expertises in journalism, software development, pedagogical engineering and cultural mediation – these newsrooms will allow 3000 Ukrainian and Italian children (aged 10-18), 3000 parents and 125 teachers, to better understand the infosphere and the informational process as a main base for democracy, inclusion and participation. The methodology includes: i) lectures by subject matter experts; ii) interactive fact checking labs through an innovative training and debunking software; iii) a fake-news investigation within the current emergency of the Ukrainian crisis. The main goal is to develop knowledge, competences and skills raising young citizens’ awareness on the importance of the process leading “from information to knowledge”. Other goals are: foster critical thinking against stereotyping, cultural and social bias, political distortion, emotional manipulation; reduce the digital divide through increasing awareness of “web traps” and training the ability to recognize reliable sources through digital tools; develop intercultural education and social bonds.
|Name of the Project: NATURAL | Fact-Checking Natural Remedies and Herbal Medicine
|Lead Applicant: Inevitável e Fundamental, Lda. (Portugal)
|Grant Amount: €53,825.81
The Project NATURAL | Fact-Checking Natural Remedies and Herbal Medicine will look to contribute to tackling pressing issues related to disinformation and misinformation, by improving the detection and understanding of misinformation narratives in health- Viral Check is a health fact-checking newspaper. In this regard, NATURAL – whose activities will be an addition to the applicant’s current activities – focuses on fact-checking on natural remedies and herbal medicine, with the goal of making populations more resilient to the corrosive effects of misinformation in these matters, especially in contexts of public health crisis.
The health sector faces an additional challenge concerning misinformation – its complex communication. The average citizen often lacks the capacity to understand the accuracy of a particular piece of information, since reliable information on a given subject is often encoded in inaccessible scientific language, making it easier to rely on second, unverified sources. NATURAL aims to reach out to the entire population through clear language accessible to all, demystifying the most “traditional” and deeply rooted beliefs in different segments of the population. The content will be thought of in an attractive way, considering the most appealing themes for different age groups.
Viral developed its own methodology that covers the selection process (the processes by which the applicant chooses what claims to evaluate); research methods (the basic techniques and types of sources that the applicant most commonly uses when conducting research on claims, as well as the official rules and editorial policies that govern its approaches); claim evaluation (the systems and processes by which the applicant establishes the veracity of a claim). In addition to these criteria, the NATURAL project will have a stricter selection process, as only topics related to natural remedies and herbal medicine and impacting on prominent global health issues will be considered.
|Name of the Project: Pismo. To foster the best practice fact-checking in Polish media
|Lead Applicant: Fundacja Pismo (Poland)
|Grant Amount: €37,204.85
Pismo. Magazyn opinii is a unique non profit media project run by the Pismo Foundation, with a mission to shape current and future leaders of Polish social, political and cultural life. It restores the faith in in-depth, reliable, non-partisan, high-quality journalism working for the public purpose.
Pismo is a monthly magazine distinctive in the Polish media market, with its focus on the long read, carefully edited content avoiding daily political or casual sensations, published in paper, digital and audio formats. It has already been recognized with major national and international awards, the independent media research and industry associations, and has been praised for its innovative content formats. Since a thorough fact-checking of all the content published is not a common practice among media in Poland, we believe that the process and resources deployed by Pismo stand as a best practice and an important reference point for the other Polish editorial teams.
The project responds to the challenges faced by democracy and independent media in Poland and to the decline of trust in media and their independence of undue political influences, through fostering and promoting the good fact-checking practices. It will allow Pismo to run and improve the quality of our fact-checking process, covering the remuneration of a full-time fact-checker employed by Pismo, the external freelance fact-checkers/editors and external reviewers. In addition it will run a campaign promoting the best practice methods of fact-checking among Pismo readers and a wider audience. The key impact of this effort comes from the offering Polish thought and opinion leaders access to in-depth, high quality, nonpartisan, fact-checked content will help them to critically assess information accessed through different media and will make them more resistant to autocracy and populism.
The fifth cut-off date of the ongoing Boosting Fact-Checking Activities in Europe call will be on 30 June 2023.