The main objective of PREVENT (Prevention of Digital Disinformation Campaigns) is to research the emergence of digital disinformation campaigns and to develop solutions that can counteract or prevent such campaigns. To achieve this goal, the consortium is developing an innovative training approach aimed at authorities and organisations with security tasks (BOS) as trustworthy and influential actors in crisis situations. For this purpose, the ethical guidelines for the implementation of the developed measures and the pedagogical concept for communicating the results are being created at the IZEW. PREVENT is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Especially in crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, people have a strong need for information. Lack of information or contradictory information trigger fears or uncertainty. At the same time, especially in crisis situations, it is important that the population receives reliable information, in order to adequately assess the situation and act appropriately. To get information quickly, many people increasingly turn to the internet and social media.
Nowadays, fake news, conspiracy myths and digital disinformation campaigns make it more difficult to form opinions on the internet or in chat rooms. It is often misinformation that citizens share with friends and family members, trusting that it is valid. However, the source of this misinformation can also be digital disinformation campaigns that attempt, for example, to undermine democratic debate or exacerbate social polarisation. The coordinated dissemination of disinformation can artificially distort public opinion on social media and diminish public trust in security actors.
The main goal of PREVENT is to research and simulate the emergence of digital disinformation campaigns and to develop solutions to prevent them. To this end, the consortium is developing an innovative training approach aimed at authorities and organisations with security tasks (BOS) as trusted and influential actors in crisis situations.
The development of the training approach includes:
- the development of a demonstrator that simulates the emergence of digital disinformation campaigns in realistic training scenarios and enables BOS to learn effective preventive measures;
- the development of effective preventive measures that BOS can take to avoid the emergence of digital disinformation campaigns in the first place;
- the ethical-legal evaluation of the preventive measures to ensure responsible and legal use of the learned measures in real crisis situations.
The IZEW sub-project "Ethical evaluation of measures to prevent digital disinformation campaigns" is significantly involved in all three steps:
- The demonstrator is prepared through expert interviews and accompanied in its development with ethical expertise.
- The implementation of the measures is supported by ethical guidelines and pedagogical concepts.
- The ethical-legal evaluation is carried out together with the partners of the University of Cologne.
In order to ensure all this, the sub-project is examining in particular the ethical requirements for the handling of disinformation campaigns by public authorities. It must be ensured that all measures remain within the limits set by the principles of media freedom and state neutrality of the media.