Projects’ results are expected to contribute to some or all of the following outcomes:
- European Police Authorities, other relevant practitioners and (social) media organisations are provided with better, modern and validated tools and training materials to tackle those activities related to disinformation and fake news that are considered as crime or could lead to a crime and that are supported by advanced digital technologies;
- European common approaches are made available to policy-makers and security practitioners for analysing risks/threats, and identifying and deploying relevant security measures related to disinformation and fake news, which take into account legal and ethical rules of operation, cost-benefit considerations, as well as fundamental rights such as privacy and protection of personal data;
- Improved understanding of the cultural and societal aspects of disinformation and fake news, as well as on the key challenges related to combating it;
- Strengthened key personnel’s knowledge regarding disinformation campaigns;
- Enhanced perception of security thanks to an increased awareness of the citizens about the value of verified and trustworthy data sources and their content, obtained through education and training materials on trustable sources of information.
Combating disinformation and fake news with implications for security is an important aspect where modern information analysis is needed. Bots are increasingly used to manipulate the public opinion and spread fake news on the internet. Causing a mass panic by spreading fake news is one example. Dimensions of this problem increase even more in crisis situations, such as the COVID-19 lockdown, where spreading disinformation and fake news, by infusing uncertainty and fear, aims at harming people’s life, intensifying the crisis situations, weakening the European societies and aggravating the divisions. This topic asks for an interdisciplinary approach based both on societal capabilities to withstand such a threat (e.g., education on trustable sources of information, research on the impact of uncertainties caused by disinformation on public crisis management and society overall) and on technological means of fighting against it. Regarding the latter, for a more effective early detection of criminal activities, Police Authorities and (social) media organisations need tools and (forensic) capabilities that, e.g., enable the assessment of the origin, veracity and trustworthiness of digital content by identifying altered or fake generated information.
In the European context, this also implies that the tools should have various functionalities such as: identification of non-human originated content via origin and activity, detection of machine-generated text in various languages, verification of the authenticity of data with a high accuracy (better than human), fast analysis of large amounts of data to pre-filter for faked and/or manipulated content, which can be presented to investigators, etc. Activities proposed within this topic should build on results of previous projects on disinformation and fake news, such as those funded under Information and Communication Technologies Calls of Horizon 2020, and should address both technological and societal dimensions of fighting against disinformation and fake news in a balanced way, including also knowledge about cultural aspects and perception of disinformation (as well as trustworthiness of sources) among citizens. Thus, this topic requires the effective contribution of Social Science and Humanities (SSH) disciplines and the involvement of SSH experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related research activities.
Coordination with successful proposals from topics HORIZON-CL2-DEMOCRACY-2021-01-08 (Politics and governance in a post-pandemic world), HORIZON-CL2-DEMOCRACY-2022-01-06 (Politics and the impact of online social networks and new media) and HORIZON-CL4-2021-HUMAN-01-27 (AI to fight disinformation) should be envisaged so as to avoid duplication and to exploit complementarities as well as opportunities for increased impact.
In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content should be addressed only if the consortium deems it relevant in relation to the objectives of the research effort.