Elves vs Trolls – The Battle for Truth Online

As tools are developed and platforms like Facebook tighten-up content verification, the battle between Elves and activists fighting trolls, spammers and fakers for reach and take-down has barely begun.

This week the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom event “Defending the truth in a post-truth era” taking place in Leipzig, Germany on 13 -14 June 2017 hopes to highlight the problems facing journalists in today’s post-truth, fake-news media environment.

How does a story about a Russian attack on a US ship get from a parody website to a billing on Fox News and reported with minimal scepticism? More pertinently, what – if anything – can or should be done to mitigate this type of ‘news’?

Fake news and its close relationship with unsolicited content, e.g. spam, have been covered by Netopia. The ECMPF conference has an overarching question of how to verify news, and how to do this: via the user, an algorithm or monitoring.

What can or should be done to mitigate this type of ‘news’?

Highlights include Jochen Spangenberg from the Reveal project that focuses on user-generated content and the misinformation ecosystem. Spangenberg’s EU Funded project attempts to add some verisimilitude to UGC. Where this differs to other verification tools is that Reveal is attempting to automate journalism rather ad hoc account, fact or image checking (e.g. via Twitteraudit, socialblade, TinyEye).

Esteemed ECMPF researcher Martin Hoffmann’s report “Lying press and the concept of the enemy”  will provide an insight into the damage fake news can do to the idea of impartiality in media when set against the rise in right-wing populist publications and in turn an increase in recorded violence against German journalists.

Netopia looks forward to reporting back on Hoaxmap – Karolin Schwarz’s crowdsourced fact-checking project, Czech journalist Lucie Sykorova’s and Journalist in Residence at the ECPMF Leon Menkshi’s work on fake news in their respective countries.

No conference – on what is ostensibly propaganda dissemination would be complete without a look at cyber-warfare.  How NATO and the Kremlin are at war in your Facebook feed is a topic taken up in a presentation by Vaidas Saidziunas (DELFI).

Netopia will report via live Tweet from Leipzig on Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 June, 2017.