On the 27th of March 2019, SOMA project was at the center of the inauguration ceremony of the 2018/2019 Academic Year of the LUISS School of Journalism. The event hosted a debate titled “Disinformation, the evil of our time”, moderated by Gianni Riotta, Director of School of Journalism and Data Lab. Numerous experts from the Italian infosphere attended the debate, including representatives from the main media platforms and companies as well as European policy-makers and officials.
The debate was concluded by a keynote speech held by Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society at the European Commission.
Giuseppe Abbamonte, Director of Media Policy at the European Commission, stressed how disinformation affects citizens’ trust towards institutions and democratic processes and described the strategy of the European Commission to tackle such issue. The Commission called also platforms to action by asking them to cut the economic incentives to fake news, to commit not to sell advertising to disinformation makers and to increase in the transparency of political advertisement.
After intervention from media organizations and academic researchers, Facebook and Google were directly called to speak. In particular, Laura Bononcini, Head of Institutional Relations and Regulatory Affairs in Italy, stressed on the importance of collaboration with fact-checkers, while Diego Ciulli, Google Director Corporate Communications and Public Affair Southern Europe, illustrated the three-fronts commitment Google has decided to take against misinformation: rewarding quality, opposing bad actors, helping users by giving them context.
Before Commissioner Gabriel’s lecture, Simona De Rosa, from T6ECO, presented the SOMA Social Observatory for Disinformation and Social Media Analysis project, its aims and objectives.
SOMA project was explicitly mentioned by Commissioner Gabriel in her keynote as an example of the actions funded and supported by the European Commission to tackle disinformation with an inclusive and coordinated response.
The Commissioner acknowledged the need of an urgent action in fighting disinformation, which is able to impact our choices and thoughts by polarizing the debate, undermining electoral integrity and the security of European citizens. In this perspective, according to the Commissioner, media are “keepers of democracy” in the battle to rebuild institutional trust, severally undermined in all EU countries.
Photo by freepik