European Digital Media Observatory launched in Florence to analyse disinformation

"With online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, we will work to create secure access for researchers to research-relevant datasets," said Renaud Dehousse, the president of the European University Institute, within which the EDMO is based. [EPA-EFE/HARISH TYAGI]

The European Digital Media Observatory, which aims to analyse disinformation, was launched in Florence on Monday (1 June). Funded by the EU, it brings together researchers and experts in media literacy. EURACTIV Italy reports.

“Disinformation is increasingly threatening our democratic societies and we must fight it. In doing so, we will defend [Europe’s] fundamental rights and values, including freedom of expression and information,” European Commissioner for values and transparency, Věra Jourová, said during the launch of the EDMO on Monday.

“It will promote fact-checking and improve our ability to better understand the spread of misinformation online,” she added.

The EDMO is based in Florence, within the European University Institute.

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A number of newly elected members of the European Parliament committed to joining forces in the upcoming five-year term in fighting disinformation, during an event organised by EURACTIV foundation.

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said that “the last few months have once again demonstrated the serious and damaging consequences that misinformation can have on our health, our society and our economies”.

“The Observatory will be an important reference point for combating, unmasking, understanding and analysing misinformation activities in Europe,” he said.

The EDMO will examine the reasons behind fake news, as well as the techniques and methods used in online disinformation, through targeted research.

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European Union (EU) nations banking on 5G to boost economic growth are eager to tackle conspiracy theories linking the wireless technology to the spread of the novel coronavirus that have seen masts torched in several places.

“With online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, we will work to create secure access for researchers to research-relevant datasets,” said Renaud Dehousse, the president of the European University Institute. Users will be able to access EDMO’s secure platform to check facts and collaborate with other users, Dehousse added.

“We will also provide materials for media education professionals, teachers and citizens to raise awareness of online misinformation, the importance of which has been demonstrated once again by the explosion of [fake news] related to the COVID-19 epidemic,” concluded Dehousse.

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