AI4Debunk: the new EU project fighting online disinformation

To revolutionize the fight against disinformation, a four-year innovation action, AI4Debunk, has been launched this January. Funded by the European Union (EU) through the Horizon Europe Programme, the project brings together an interdisciplinary consortium of 13 partner entities from eight countries towards a shared mission: to support trustworthy online activity by providing citizens with human-centered AI-powered tools.

In recent years, the proliferation of disinformation has become a major issue across Europe. The pervasive use of the internet and social media has facilitated the spread of fake news and propaganda, heavily influencing public opinion, as evidenced during the COVID-19 pandemic and, more recently, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In this context, a synergistic combination of human efforts and sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) tools is the only sustainable way to effectively combat the “infodemic” and battle of narratives we currently face. As stated by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission: “AI is already changing our everyday lives. And this is just the beginning. Used wisely and widely, AI promises huge benefits to our economy and society.”

Partners who will participate and are in charge of the successful implementation of AI4Debunk: University of Latvia (Latvia) – project coordinator, Euractiv.bg, Pilot4DEV, University of Mons (Belgium), Internews Ukraine (Ukraine), National Research Council of Italy, University of Florence (Italy), its affiliated entity – CNIT (Italy), Barcelona Supercomputing Center (Spain), DOTSOFT (Greece), University of Galway, F6S Innovation (Ireland), University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Innovative Power (Netherlands).

Involving various stakeholders, from media professionals to software developers and AI experts, this new EU project takes a holistic approach to fighting disinformation through Human-AI collaboration. It will be validated with two case studies: Russian propaganda related to the war in Ukraine and manipulated content on climate change.

AI4Debunk aims to develop four human-centered AI-powered interfaces: a web plug-in, a collaborative platform, a smartphone app, and an Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality interface based on the first-of-its-kind open-source debunking API.

The plug-in will be designed for seamless integration with web browsers and social media platforms, delivering instant notifications to users when they encounter false content, regardless of the format. As for the collaborative platform (Disinfopedia), it will allow proactive users to report suspicious content, which will then be checked by human experts and potentially removed from circulation. The app, in turn, will enable people to detect disinformation in everyday life directly through their smartphone. Lastly, the AR/VR interface will provide guidelines on how to deal with disinformation in future AR/VR-based social media.

AI4Debunk’s interfaces cover different needs – from real-time analysis of multimodal content to community-driven reporting and immersive experiences, providing citizens with a comprehensive set of fact-checking resources to navigate the digital media landscape more consciously and make informed decisions. These interfaces will also be innovatively and playfully designed for educational purposes to help students become discerning consumers of information. By promoting transparency, accuracy, and responsible engagement with online platforms, AI4Debunk strives to foster critical thinking and reinforce the fabric of a healthy democracy.

About AI4Debunk

AI4Debunk aims to revolutionize the fight against disinformation and support trustworthy online activity. Through the development of human-centered AI-powered tools, this EU project is committed to safeguarding democratic values and fostering a more informed and resilient society in response to the challenges posed by the digital age. The AI4Debunk project (full name: Participative Assistive AI-powered Tools for Supporting Trustworthy Online Activity of Citizens and Debunking Disinformation) is a 48-month innovation action funded by the European Union through the Horizon Europe Programme under the Grant Agreement No. 101135757. 

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Inna Šteinbuka, our project coordinator, reflects on the importance of fighting disinformation in the digital age, highlighting how AI4Debunk can make a difference.