In recent years disinformation has caused a lot of damage, both abroad and in Dutch society. The corona crisis has played an important role in this and accelerated the spread of fake news. However, the best way to combat this is by way of balanced, impartial and reliable reporting which is based on facts. This is also essential for a well-functioning democracy.
The Flemish-Dutch collaboration fits within the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO), an international network of hubs in which experts in the field of disinformation join forces and share knowledge. Apart from the Dutch-Flemish hub, seven other EDMO hubs will be launched in Europe in the autumn. This way, EDMO increases media literacy with the public, both in the Low Countries and throughout Europe.
Over the next three years, the hub will not only detect growing disinformation campaigns, but also produce and publish fact-checks. A research team will also be appointed to analyse various strategies and methods that detect fake news in terms of process, effectiveness and applicability within the European policy and legal framework.
The University of Amsterdam (UvA) will be involved in analysing the effectivity of different fact-checking strategies in the Dutch and Belgian setting within the research lab that will be set up. ‘Our research will feed into strategies for countering disinformation and aims to become a part of literacy tools and evidence-based policy-making’, explains UvA professor of Political Communication Claes de Vreese. ‘The first series of experiments will investigate whether regular fact-checking is effective across issues and whether fact-checkers can correct factual misperceptions, and lower the credibility of disinformation. In the next steps, experiments will also look at the effect of fact-checkers on political perceptions and evaluations, support for political parties or politicians and political cynicism.’
The Dutch language will already be well represented within the European EDMO network. The European Commission announced that it would also subsidise a second hub in the Low Countries, aimed at fact-checking in Dutch, French, German, English and Luxembourgish. Under the name EDMO BELUX, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Brussels School of Governance + SMIT), Université Saint-Louis Bruxelles, Mediawijs, RTL, Agence France Presse (AFP), EU DisinfoLab and Athens Technology Center will be responsible for this. Of course, the Flemish-Dutch EDMO and EDMO BELUX will work closely together.
Visit the website of the University of Amsterdam for more information.