Collaboration against disinformation: a summit organised by First Draft

From March 17th to 19th we participated with a group of students to the Collaboration Against Disinformation boot camp held in Milan. It was part of a series of summits across Europe. The summit was organised by First Draft, a non-profit organisation that supports journalists, academics, and technologists working on challenges relating to informational trust in the digital age. The summits aim at intensifying a cross-border collaboration on tackling information disorder as part of the new CrossCheck International Initiative.

The opportunity to participate in this summit comes from the project A Field Guide to “Fake News” and Other Information Disorders, a joint collaboration promoted by the Public Data Lab which put us in contact with First Draft.

DensityDesign Lab was invited to join the three days summit with two goals: share our approach on information visualization and facilitate discussion groups on the topic. The meeting was structured in two main moments: the first part was dedicated to short presentations held by experts from different fields and meant to understand the scale of the problem. After, the approach became more practical and the sessions turned into tutorials and conversations covering the different fields of the opening speeches.

A group of 5 Master degree students (Edoardo Guido, Matteo Banal, Francesca Grignani, Gabriele Wiedenmann and Elena Aversa), 1 PhD candidate (Beatrice Gobbo) and a PhD (Ángeles Briones) from our Lab took part in the event to propose a different method for data-driven research based on visualization. In particular, DD Lab arranged three moments: a speech presenting the findings of a master thesis about the circulation of disinformation through the Italian Facebook network followed by two interactive sessions introducing data collection methods. and visualization tools.

Circulation of disinformation through the Italian Facebook

In the plenary session Elena Aversa presented the finding of her thesis. Starting from a Facebook page sharing disinformation, developed protocols to track the main sources of the misleading news and understand the impact of them on the public. The presentation enabled the research to be shared with the audience of journalists and other experts, starting a fruitful discussion. If you are interested to know more about her thesis, you can visit here the project page.

Track and communicate the circulation of information disorders

During the first session, PhD Angeles Briones went through the different chapters of the Field Guide to Fake News and Other Informational Disorders,  presenting how protocols combining digital tools are actually effective in supplying the research. We also wanted to engage the audience on a deeper level, letting them try and use some of the tools mentioned in the Guide. The result was an interesting discussion about how participants’ own research could be developed and enriched through such methods.

Simulating recipes

The second session, held by PhD candidate Beatrice Gobbo, was even more interactive for the audience: mainly focused on the use of CrowdTangle, Netvizz, and RawGraph, combined them in a short tutorial to address a simple data collection and visualization. This hands-on approach helped some of those present to actually visualize their own datasets at the end of the meeting. 

The summit ended with a speech dedicated to the CrossCheck platform launched by First Draft. This is an online collaborative verification tool bringing together several partners around the world and created to accurately report false, misleading and confusing claims that circulate online.  

This boot camp gave us the possibility to share knowledge and work with experts from different areas and represented another occasion to understand the fundamental role that data visualization have in the analysis, comprehension, and explanation of social phenomenons.


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