The project aims to create a multinational, multi-stakeholder, and multidisciplinary regional hub for detecting, analysing and combating disinformation circulating in Bulgaria and Romania. BROD hub will offer world-leading expertise, locally adapted multilingual tools, and capabilities for rapid detection and analysis of disinformation campaigns and will contribute to the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO) work.
The partners from Vitosha Research EOOD (Bulgaria) hosted the two-day meeting, where the partner organizations presented their expertise and their contribution to the project.
“This project is extremely important for us, as it confirms the role of the Institute as the main driver in the region for introducing innovations. We stand firmly behind the cause of providing professionals with better tools to detect disinformation and increase citizens’ media literacy. Our commitment stems from the social significance of this topic,” said the director of GATE, Prof. Silvia Ilieva.
“For the first time, a structure is starting to be built in which anyone who has an interest in the topic of disinformation can join. These are media, academic institutions and technology companies, and people involved in media and information literacy education. The goal is to create a network for detecting and countering disinformation,” said Assoc. Prof. Milena Dobreva, head of research at BROD.
As a side event to the project kick-off meeting, a “round table” was organized to discuss the 2022 European Commission’s Code of Practice on Disinformation, aimed at wider cooperation on solutions to the problem of disinformation and the involvement of technology companies at the backbone of digital media. The forum was opened by Prof. Mariya Stoycheva, Deputy Rector of Sofia University. The participants were welcomed by Blagovest Kirilov, Deputy Minister of e-Government, Cvetan Kyulanov, Head of the EC Representation in Bulgaria, Dr Gabriela Naplatanova-Ruseva, member of the Council for Electronic Media and Prof. Silvia Ilieva, director of the GATE Institute. They highlighted the importance of the topic of countering misinformation and congratulated GATE for the timely initiative.
The Romanian partners of the BROD project presented the Romanian perspective of the Code and the main challenges in relation to its implementation. The possibilities for the Code’s action in Bulgarian conditions were commented on by experts who emphasized the media, legal, educational and technological aspects. Among the participants in the forum were Dr Maria Yurukova, a researcher at the Department of European Studies at Sofia University and advisor to the President on domestic policy and civil society, and Maria Cheresheva from the Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria. Prof. Kalina Boncheva, a guest researcher at GATE, presented the topic of the impact of the Code from a scientific point of view, and Vladimir Petkov, from Identrics, expressed the view of the IT industry. It was stated that for the application of the Code, it is necessary for its provisions to become part of the national legislation, and for the media to start using it in their practical activities.
The kick-off meeting of the BROD project was the culmination of the series of events under the title “United against misinformation” that the GATE Institute organized in the week of January 23-27, 2023.
The week started with a Doors Open Day, where scientists from the Disinformation Detection and Research Team at GATE talked about their exciting work. The event was held with strong media interest. Opening the event, the head of the research group for the study of disinformation at GATE, Assoc. Prof. Milena Dobreva, emphasized the role of artificial intelligence in detecting disinformation and presented the main projects of the Institute in this field. Interactive games followed, accompanied by lively discussions and many prizes for the winners. Examples of disinformation were presented, as well as practical guidelines for fact-checking in everyday life, and more sophisticated ways to detect false information with the help of technology. The researchers addressed a variety of questions from the audience.
The winter seminar on January 25-26 introduced participants to methods and tools for recognizing disinformation and false information. The event was organized by the GATE TRACES project, financed by AI4Media with funds from the EU’s research and innovation framework program Horizon 2020. The two-day training met the participants with Prof. Dr Kalina Boncheva, a world-renowned scientist in the field and head of the Natural Language Processing Group at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Computer Science. Col. Associate Professor Dr Petko Dimov – Director of the “Distance Learning, Language Training and Qualification” Department of the “Georgi Sava Rakovski” Military Academy presented a guide to combating fake news in Bulgarian. Hristina Shushkoff, a specialist in criminal linguistics, revealed specialized techniques for recognizing false information. Lawyer Eleonora Mateyna explained how the spreaders of false information are exposed in Bulgaria and the EU. The workshop marked the successful completion of the TRACES project.
A recording of the training can be seen on GATE Institute’s Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube channels.
The series of GATE events “United against disinformation” demonstrated the Institute’s commitment to the topic of detecting and researching false information and created the prerequisites for a successful counteraction at the national and European levels.
Video: BROD partners and their role in the project