Romanian consortium receives funding to innovate disinformation analysis towards trustable content using blockchain technology and artificial intelligence.
At present, trust in mainstream media is lower than ever. In the current media landscape, publications are driven by click-based ad revenue. To increase the number of views (and therefore to increase their income), publications tend to take journalistic shortcuts (like not thoroughly verifying the facts or presenting incomplete information just to be the first to announce some news and so on). In this landscape, even reputable publications tend to favor engagement over clarity. This in turn impacts the readers’ ability to distinguish the truth from disinformation and fake news.
A survey regarding trust in the media (television, radio, written press, internet and social networks) was conducted in 2019 in all 28 EU countries. It was found that 41% of Europeans have medium trust in the media, 40% of the EU citizens had low or no trust in the media at all and only 19% of adults had high trust in the news media. So, the population in general is aware about the media quality and the spread of disinformation and fake news. That was in 2019 and since then, the sensitive geopolitical context further increased the spread of disinformation and fake news.
There are important questions to consider about who sets the standards, who is responsible for validation, and who manages potential disputes. The decentralized nature of a blockchain-based solution can help address many of these concerns in a much more transparent way than the current fact-checking tools, since it eliminates the need for a single, trusted institution to make these critical decisions.
It is within this context that 5 Romanian organizations were reunited under a common purpose of bringing the fight against disinformation to a new level by using blockchain technology.
Fighting disinformation using decentralized actors featuring AI and blockchain technologies (the FiDisD project), has been financed under the 3rd open call under TruBlo, a cascade-funding project funded through the Horizon 2020 programme.
In a world where it is increasingly difficult to separate news from fake news, there is a race for influence operations, clicks and an ever growing number of informational threats against individuals and societies. The project team aims to develop FiDisD, a decentralized anti-disinformation platform that can fight effectively and objectively the informational warfare that we are part of.
This platform will give the end user a simple and objective way to see which media institutions are the most reliable and to check trust on news articles. The model proposed by us is scalable and can be easily adapted for other EU countries with a huge impact on fighting fake news and disinformation all over Europe.
The project is among 21 selected under the third and last open call under TruBlo, an European Project which redirects a total investment of €4,2 million towards the development of new ideas, platforms and solutions for the next generation internet, the internet of humans.
Each project will receive a lump sum of €75 000 for the Innovation stage (phase 1). Of these only 4 will enter the Progress Phase where an additional funding of €100 000 will be provided.
This project was developed among members of the Cybersecurity & Blockchain Working Group active in the Cluj IT Cluster ecosystem. While its team reunites experts specialized in cybersecurity, blockchain, fake news detection and media from Cluj IT’s extended ecosystem, the consortium runs under the coordination of the Gheorghe Asachi Technical University in Iasi.
To find out more about the project’s ambition, the problem addressed, as well as the envisioned solution Project Coordinator, Cristian Nicolae Butincu, talked to Digitalio in this interview *.
*Content available in Romanian.
Gheorghe Asachi Technical University in Iasi, one of the oldest and best-known higher education institutions in Romania
Cluj IT Cluster is a cluster and innovation-based organization composed of more than 90 organizations on the IT industry value chain, such as providers of software services and solutions, universities and research institutes, public bodies, and other catalyst organizations.
Cyber Dacians, cybersecurity company with experience as an anti-disinformation think-tank
Digitalio.ro, news and debate platform dedicated to digitalization, new technologies, cryptospace and cybersecurity.