On 12 October 2022 Eva Kaili, Vice President of the European Parliament, invited an interested audience to a session hosted by her in Brussels under the motto "United Against Disinformation: A Truly European Response." The event was coordinated by her team together with EDMO, the European Digital Media Observatory, which is funded by the European Commission and serves as one of the main European pillars in the fight against disinformation. EDMO, in turn, is a prime collaboration destination of vera.ai. Furthermore, numerous close working relationships exist between our project and EDMO. This includes Kalina Bontcheva (University of Sheffield) and the author of this article (Jochen Spangenberg, Deutsche Welle) being members of the EDMO Advisory Board.
vera.ai was represented at said meeting by Nikos Sarris and myself. I contributed to the event primarily in my role as working for Deutsche Welle's Research and Cooperation Projects unit as well as being Advisory Board Chairman of CEDMO and a member of the EDMO Advisory Board, while Nikos Sarris joined primarily in his role and function as Truly Media project lead for ATC Athens Technology Centre.
In her opening address, Eva Kaili made clear that disinformation poses a serious problem to the world's democracies. She further stressed how important cooperation and collaboration is in countering it. In particular, the Vice President, who is also involved in the EP's Panel for the Future of Science & Technology and Chair of the Working Group on ICT Innovation Strategy, praised the collaboration of Deutsche Welle and ATC. She pointed out how such cooperations can benefit European aims in countering disinformation.
The next speaker was Krisztina Stump, Head of the Unit that is in charge of combatting online disinformation at the European Commission–which is the unit in which vera.ai is located. In her speech, Krisztina focussed on policy activities such as the Code of Practice on Disinformation and the Digital Services Act. She furthermore pointed out the importance of initiatives such as EDMO and its role of bringing the various activities and players together under one roof.
This was picked up by Paula Gori and Lauro Tierala from EDMO, who outlined the achievements of EDMO to date and its approach. They stressed the importance of sustainability and pursuing a multi-stakeholder approach when it comes to tackling disinformation.
They were followed by Nikos Sarris who talked about the technological side that is needed when it comes to countering disinformation. In particular, Nikos showed the genesis of Truly Media, a collaborative verification platform co-developed in European research and development projects by ATC and Deutsche Welle. The service is available to paying customers and is also being provided to all the so-called EDMO Hubs for their collaborative verification efforts. Furthermore, features and services being developed in vera.ai will be integrated into Truly Media, therewith benefiting both customers as well as the EDMO community at large.
Then, it was my turn. I introduced the aims, ambitions and approaches of CEDMO before I highlighted past and present EC co-funded research and development projects in which DW has been involved since 2012 that dealt–and still deal–with the topics disinformation and verification. These are namely REVEAL, InVID, WeVerify, AI4Media, and–the newest addition that started on 15 September 2022–our very own vera.ai. Hence I was provided with a great opportunity to introduce our project to a high level audience.
The last to speak was Vitalba Crivello from the European Parliament who rounded up the talks by presenting insights into the EP's work of relevance.
Summing up: the event, attended by participants coming from policy making, various organisations, companies and EU institutions, was regarded as very worthwhile by all involved. For the vera.ai project it was a great opportunity to briefly present itself and raise awareness for our ambitious and important project, bringing it to a wider expert audience and the European policy stage.
Author: Jochen Spangenberg, Deutsche Welle