Pressmeddelande 24/8 2021
Press release: A Nordic collective effort to combat misinformation
We are thrilled to announce the formation of NORDIS (NORdic observatory for digital media and information DISorder), a Nordic consortium of researchers and fact-checkers funded by the European Commission.
The consortium’s work will focus on understanding, monitoring and countering the spread of misinformation in and across the Nordics, through academic research, fact-checking and efforts to strengthen media literacy in the region.
The consortium’s vision is a Nordic region that is more resilient in the face of misinformation and digital information disorders.
– NORDIS aims to strengthen the national and regional infrastructure to tackle digital information disorder through a cross-country, cross-disciplinary, and cross-sectoral knowledge-based hub. By bringing partners from the four largest Nordic countries together, NORDIS will consolidate a strong research-based Nordic fact-checking network, says the leader of NORDIS, professor Anja Bechmann at Aarhus University.
On July 26th, NORDIS signed a grant agreement with the European Commission, securing €1,496,120 in funding over a period of two years, starting on September 1st 2021.
NORDIS will perform its work in close collaboration with the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO).
Cooperation is key
NORDIS aims to realize its vision through a collaboration between researchers and fact-checkers, resulting in new data, insights, technological solutions, recommendations for journalistic practice, and tools educators can use to bolster media literacy among their students and in the general public.
Commonalities in the kinds of misleading and false content that spreads in the different countries in the region, make it evident that collaboration is key to addressing the challenges misinformation and other information disorders pose to the Nordics.
The consortium will foster closer collaboration between researchers and fact-checkers in the region. According to professor Bechmann, NORDIS aims to achieve several goals:
- Creating more efficient media literacy and awareness campaigns tailored to the digital and societal environment in each member country, and in the region as a whole.
- Providing a common methodology for researchers which can improve the use of fact-checking databases in academia, as well as cross-national efforts to detect and debunk misinformation, like fake news and propaganda.
- Providing policy recommendations that can give legislators an improved foundation in their efforts to address the spread of misinformation.
A growing issue
While propaganda and other kinds of information disorders have been a fixture throughout human history, it has reached unparalleled heights in the past few years, according to professor Bechmann:
– In digital spaces, and especially on social media, misinformation travels faster and further than ever before. This trend has intensified in the last couple of years, as social media are gaining traction in the world.
The fact that Nordic countries are highly digitized, poses a special challenge, according to Bechmann:
– Facebook, for instance, has a high penetration rate in the Nordic countries.
While the Nordic welfare states are characterized by high levels of trust in media institutions and political stability, misinformation is still a major challenge:
– Existing research suggests that misinformation makes up a small share of people’s information diets on average (from U.S. study). However, misinformation travels faster and further than verified content, which is clearly troubling, Bechmann explains.
International impact likely
Bechmann is confident that a hub like NORDIS will strengthen the ability of Nordic countries to resist the spread of misinformation:
– By strengthening the collaboration between different countries, NORDIS provides a strong basis that researchers and fact-checkers can rely on to tackle information disorders in an evidence-based way. It will also allow fact-checkers and researchers to work together on larger cases in countries with similar media and information landscapes.
Bechmann is optimistic about the potential impact of a consortium like NORDIS:
– NORDIS will allow for academic cross-country analysis of mis- and disinformation, and its work in bolstering digital literacy in the Nordics has the potential to resonate at the international level due to the special status of the Nordic Welfare State and its associated ideals, she says.
A wide-ranging collaboration
NORDIS has a total of eight member organizations, representing academia and fact-checkers in the region.
- Aarhus University (Denmark)
- University of Bergen (Norway)
- Uppsala University (Sweden)
- Helsinki University (Finland)
- Faktisk.no (Norway)
- TjekDet (Denmark)
- Källkritikbyrån (Sweden)
- Faktabaari (Finland)
– Research partners have been selected to represent different important fields of research studying disinformation spanning from digital literacy and policy to social media collective behavior, information detection and technological developments, says professor Bechmann.
– Fact-checkers include IFCN-certified fact-checkers and organizations in each country with varied expertise, spanning from media literacy and awareness work to more traditional fact-checking work, like debunking viral misinformation.
A NORDIS launch event will take place on September 15th, the International Day of Democracy.
Professor Anja Bechmann (Aarhus University)
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