Christian Grimme

Project HybriD funded: Real-time Detection of Hybrid Disinformation Campaigns in Online Media

Successful application in the Agile Research Call of the BMBF
Project HybriD funded.

Aspects of disinformation have been in the focus of research and public discussion for quite some time. Incidents such as the manipulation of journalistic forums during the Ukraine conflict, the suspected influence of disinformation in the Brexit referendum, or the use of automated communication in the 2016 U.S. election have been discussed in public and by politicians. This leads to the central question: How do the disinformation campaigns behind all these incidents work?

Since the aforementioned events, research has increasingly focused on automated communication, fake news and hate speech, and how to detect them. Many citizens face these phenomena on a daily basis. The intensive study of disinformation strategies as a whole has revealed that, in addition to automated communication, there are sometimes covert aspects and actors that make a disinformation campaign powerful in the first place. In order to identify, analyze, and combat coordinated disinformation campaigns, it is also necessary to take into account human actors, content, and temporal patterns.

The aim of the collaborative project "Real-Time Detection of Hybrid Disinformation Campaigns in Online Media (HybriD)" is to develop a software-based analysis tool that helps experts to better assess disinformation campaigns. The researchers are combining artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques with human expertise to identify disinformation campaigns. The analysis tool will make it possible to evaluate large volumes of data from online media and social networks in real time and to record temporal patterns. Using this database, experts can comprehensively assess disinformation campaigns and their impact. These findings are then fed back into the tool, enabling new patterns to be learned. Iteratively, general statements about disinformation patterns can be made and so-called "archetypes" of disinformation can be identified. This is intended to answer the question given at the outset about the emergence and spread of disinformation as well as the possibilities for action.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funds this project with 2.24 Mio Euro. The University of Münster (Information Systems/ERCIS and Communication Science) leads the consortium and collaborates with the HAW Hamburg, the complexium GmbH, and many associated media partners. The project is associated with the Topical Program “Algorithmization and Social Interaction” (www.algorithmization.org) of the University of Münster and the Competence Center “Social Media Analytics” of the European Research Center for Information Systems (ERCIS).

Further information (in German, BMBF):