SOMA speaks to European Science Media Lab about the Fight Against Disinformation

SOMA project coordinator, Nikos Sarris, Head of the Innovation Lab in Athens Technology Center (ATC), along with Anja Bechmann, Professor of Media Studies and Director at DATALAB – Center for Digital Social Research speak about the Observatory and its actions, in an exclusive interview with Sophia Ignatidou from the European Science Media Lab.

Both Nikos Sarris and Anja Benchmann, elaborate on SOMA’s mission on establishing a network supporting the EU’s long-term efforts to build defenses against information manipulation strategies. Furthermore, they point out that in order to tackle disinformation, SOMA will establish national centers for research in disinformation in Italy and Denmark and will also launch a series of webinars on the use of Eurostat’s databases.

Among others, Nikos Sarris focused on the contribution of each SOMA consortium member, stating “[…] We all have specific tasks, but in short, I can say that Aarhus University brings the academic expertise of social media analysis, Pagella Politica represents the practical world of fact-checkers, the LUISS University Department of Journalism raises awareness of verification practices in the media world and T6 studies the impact of disinformation and the practices against it. ATC tries to bring all sides together by producing practical tools against disinformation.”

In addition, Anja Bechmann stressed the psychological principles relating to disinformation: “[…] research shows that people only share news articles if the article supports their own existing political conviction. So if that’s the underlying logic, we as a research team need to focus on entirely different psychological principles requiring the development of new methods to ensure a fruitful communication forum for discussions that support democracy.”

As Sophia Ignatidou mentions, these kind of activities indicate that SOMA’s action “will extend to the public and outside researchers, setting the stage for a multiprogned, inclusive and innovative initiative”.

You can read the interview here.