EUNOMIA’s partner Sorin Adam Matei from SIMAVI in an interview with Blasting Talks

November 29th, 2020 by

Sorin Adam Matei EUNOMIA’s partner representing SIMAVI and professor at Purdue University featured at Blasting Talks. He highlighted the project’s approach encouraging social media users to reflect on their engagement with information online. EUNOMIA does not dictate which information to be trusted or not. Instead, we encourage users to deliberate on online information providing tools to assist this process.

You cab read the full article here

Fighting and coping with misinformation in pandemic crises; COVINFORM Project kicks off featuring two EUNOMIA partners

November 15th, 2020 by

COVID-19 has been categorised as an infodemic by WHO. It is the first pandemic where social media has been used on such a wide scale to both share protective information and also false information, including misinformation and disinformation. Those groups that are recognised as most vulnerable to COVID-19 may also be most vulnerable to believing and engaging with misinformation (Vijaykumar, 2020). As responses to COVID-19 misinformation has resulted in injuries and fatalities, it is important to address this (Coleman, 2020).

November 2020 saw the EC funded COVINFORM project (Grant Agreement No. 101016247) kick off. The three-year project focuses on analysing and understanding the impact of COVID-19 responses on vulnerable and marginalised groups. COVINFORM features two EUNOMIA partners, Trilateral Research and SYNYO, who will draw on their expertise and knowledge gained during the EUNOMIA project to develop guidance and recommendations for designing effective COVID-19 communication and combating misinformation.

In response to this challenge, WP7 of the COVINFORM project focuses on inclusive COVID-19 communication for behaviour change and misinformation. It will conduct an in-depth analysis of malinformation, disinformation and misinformation to identity insights on how misinformation might affect different groups differently and produce recommendations to fight and cope with misinformation during COVID-19 and future pandemic crises.

For further information, please visit the project website (https://www.covinform.eu) or follow the project on Twitter (https://twitter.com/COVINFORM_EU).                                                                                                                                        

COVINFORM is one of 23 new research projects funded by the European Commission with a total of €128 million to address the continuing coronavirus pandemic and its effects. The press release covering the project’s launch is available here.

Eye-witness videos of a terrorist attack – stop and think before you share!

November 10th, 2020 by

At 20.00 on Monday, 2 November 2020, a terrorist attack took place in Vienna, Austria.[1] Four civilians and the attacker were killed, more than 20 people including a police officer were injured. Like with any other terrorist attack in the past years, the event was accompanied by a plethora of speculations, rumours, misinformation as well as real eye-witness videos posted on social media, especially during and in the immediate aftermaths of the attack. Social media play an increasing role in such events; while sharing information and videos can unite people in a shared feeling of experience throughout such events, the distribution of this kind of information is problematic for several reasons.

First and foremost, sharing videos of attacks gives terrorists a stage assisting them to fulfil their goals: terrorists need publicity to scare people and destabilise societies. Surely, it is important to provide information about such events, to warn the population of the attack. However, it is also crucial to avoid giving terrorists the chance to divide societies, to create the hatred they intend to create. Furthermore, eye-witness videos may cause psychological distress and reach audiences such as minors and youths. In addition, it may jeopardise the police investigation and put police officers at risk. During the attack in Vienna, police repeatedly asked to submit videos to a dedicated (closed) channel and avoid sharing any rumours and videos on social media. However, rumours did spread indeed, misinforming the population about kidnappings, other cities being attacked, the number of victims and attackers, the reasons and motivations behind the attack, and… the list goes on.

Cases like this prove the importance of following information hygiene guidelines. Specifically, the recommendation to ‘stop and think before you share’ goes beyond sharing misinformation. It targets the responsibility each and every member of a society. Especially during breaking events, it is crucial to be careful what information to share: mainstream media may be misinformed, and anonymous or other, non-trustworthy sources may deliberately or by accident share rumours. Even in the case of factual information, it still might be better to refrain from sharing disturbing videos – due to the abovementioned reasons. This does not mean we should stop talking about such events, and it certainly does not mean any kind of censorship. But it means to think about the consequences of what we say and share on media with such a broad audience.

As such, social media users need to be trained to stop and think about the consequences and implications of a post before they share it, or refrain from sharing: when in doubt, don’t share. EUNOMIA provides a set of tools that support this process, providing indicators and information on the provenance of information.


[1] see e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/03/vienna-shooting-what-we-know-so-far-about-the-attack