How can technology optimise fact-checking processes and help the fight against disinformation?

In recent years, technological advances, the widespread use of the internet and social networks have worsened the problem of disinformation. This new dimension stems from different factors, such as the speed at which content is disseminated or the scope and segmentation of the audience.

In this context, to tackle this growing problem, some organisations now specialise in information verification by monitoring and checking content and data circulating on the internet. This information verification process is known as fact-checking. Although fact-checking is a common practice in journalism, it has become essential to combat disinformation and limit its spread. However, it is a slow and manual process that requires time and resources.

Therefore, it is essential to test and validate innovative technology solutions that will help optimise and automate the fact-checking process and thus help reduce the spread and impact of disinformation on society.

There is little data regarding the number of falsehoods that circulate on the internet. In most cases, only viral falsehoods are detected. Nonetheless, fact-checking organisations cannot filter and verify all the information they detect, and, in many cases, the information they verify is not always the most relevant or harmful. According to the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), during the infodemic resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 6,000 relevant falsehoods have been verified worldwide. Still, nobody knows exactly how many non-viral falsehoods are in circulation. Considering the massive potential for content to go viral on the internet, the capabilities of fact-checking organisations and the high percentage of the Spanish population vulnerable to disinformation, we are facing a widespread problem. In addition, disinformation can have serious consequences for both society and the health of democracy, thus it is essential to develop actions and mechanisms that mitigate its impact. In this sense, it is important to develop tools that help fact-checking organisations optimise verification processes, detect falsehoods more quickly, make them clear to the public, and limit their spread and dissemination. Speeding up and automating fact-checking processes can significantly help combat fake news and reduce the impact of disinformation on society. In addition, the fight against disinformation and the strengthening of democratic institutions is included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as SDG 16 aims to promote just, peaceful, and inclusive societies.
This call for solutions seeks technology-based innovative solutions that help to optimise, speed up, and automate verification processes (fact-checking) in any of the following phases:

Traceability of the source of information. Identification of actors, vectors, and channels that facilitate fake news going viral.

Monitoring of media, social networks, and texting applications. Identification of threads, conversations, or publications that should be verified.

Verifying identified content, data, and information.
a. Contrast the information against already published and verified facts.
b. Generate new fact-checks from official data.

Disseminating verified facts to block the spread of falsehoods. The solutions must have a level of technological development equal to or greater than TRL 5 (Technology Readiness Level), and their implementation must be viable, both technically and economically. The winning solutions will be piloted in the context of fact-checking in Spain. In addition, those solutions with a great scalability potential will be valued positively.
Solutions can focus on aspects such as:

– Image processing techniques to detect manipulated multimedia content (eg shallow fakes and deep fakes).

– Multilingual systems to automate the identification of verifiable content in speeches, social networks, and the media.

– Early detection systems for targeted campaigns. Including the identification of messages, actors, and channels involved.

– AI algorithms capable of autonomously generating verifying facts using data from official sources.

– Verifying bots for citizenship. Conversational systems connected to databases of official fact-checkers.
With the colaboration of

Key dates

We identify tech-based solutions to optimise fact-checking

We identify tech-based solutions to optimise fact-checking

FAQs

Proposals from local, national and international entities are accepted, without restrictions of geographic sense or size of entity.
All submitted proposals should be able to provide concrete and measurable results and be prepared for pilot implementation. The technological elements of the solution must also be prepared for the pilot implementation (TRL> 5). In addition, you should provide as much detail as possible on the form.
Proposals can be made in English, Catalan or Spanish.
The winning proposal will receive financial support that will be valued in each case separately. However, the winning proposal must contribute at least 20% of the total project budget. The financial support will only be available for those activities and aspects directly related to the implementation of the pilot and no expense may be included in personnel, travel or subsistence.
This international call for proposals has three rounds of evaluation. During the third round of evaluation, a maximum of five proposals will be evaluated by a group of experts from MWCapital, the Barcelona City Council and other collaborating entities. You can find more details in the terms and conditions of the call.
You can write to the DFS Lab team at [email protected] We will reply to you as soon as possible.
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To apply to this challenge, you need to download the participation document and attach it to the form.