TITAN Use Cases
1. Towards a fact checking state of mind
Higher education institutions prepare the citizens of the future which need to be actively included in the fight against disinformation. Hence, institutions are responsible for fostering critical thinking and a ‘fact-checking state of mind’ among their students. These students serve as a concerned group of citizens, actively involved in the ubiquitous information environment, hence should have high levels of critical thinking and (news) information literacy.
To date, students, trainees and educators have access to unlimited information resources, yet it becomes increasingly difficult to assess the trustworthiness of information. These citizens have access to a large number of tools that might support them, yet these tools remain unknown, or unclear, as they each have their different objectives and often address the issue only from one angle. As a result, there is a lack of clear guidance and a dispersed landscape that does not meet the needs of people navigating the information environments entirely. For journalists it is not always clear which disinformation is spreading among students, on which platforms and its relevance to fact-check.
TITAN develops an AI tool which provides an opportunity for a more unified approach towards citizens on acquiring critical reasoning skills, supporting learning fact-checking skills and on accessing verified information while connecting in this process with other important actors (peers, journalists, fact-checker communities, teachers) in order to acquire a battling disinformation and ‘fact-checking state of mind’ among higher education students. In the broader ecosystem, these citizens can be for journalists “human fact-checking sensors” allowing them to spot disinformation faster, to produce better fact checks and to target fact-checks on relevant publication platforms. Ways to support these citizens and ways to easily link to them are thus important to establish within the TITAN project.
2. Erosion of trust towards institutions
Members of NGOs are often highly engaged and seek to expose malpractices from both governments and organizations including the global spread of hostile disinformation and propaganda from authoritarian states. However, to do so, they need to carefully verify information, to avoid spreading disinformation themselves. As such, TITAN will provide these citizens with an ecosystem that verifies or counters specific misinformation.
When battling disinformation about the European Union core values and the respective national and European policies and institutions, activists currently are hindered by difficulties to assess the trustworthiness of information despite the vast availability of information sources and resources. The citizens and particularly, grass-root activists among them, lack a complete framework that could help them to identify, assess and tackle disinformation and propaganda, incl. engaging and empowering other citizens in these activities. Moreover, civil society activists, but also the NGOs, are confronted with disbelief coming from either like-minded citizen due to absence of critical thinking or antagonists due to ideological reasons. The erosion of citizens’ trust towards institutions of democratic society is reinforced by conspiracy theories stemming from the current COVID-19 crisis, which has broken many of the social links and pushed further the use of the online environment as a substitute of in-person social life.
The TITAN solution will provide civil society activists but also their organisations with a comprehensive and unified framework that will increase their capacity for critical thinking and assessing the trustworthiness of the information they consume and communicate, enhance the fact-checking knowledge and skills. They will also help with (i) training and testing algorithms, and (ii) facilitating and improving capacity for fact-checking, incl. ensuring platform and framework for increasing the crowd-source fact-checking and tackling misinformation activities.
3. Misinformed Migrant perception in the EU
The public perception of the “refugee crisis” framed by the media has shiftedin recent times from careful tolerance, to solidarity and humanitarianism, and then to fears about security. This represents an obstacle and threat to effective integration processes. Furthermore, information manipulation campaigns contributed to increasing hatred against minorities and hence have a direct negative impact on the fundamental right to human dignity.
TITAN Project partner UNINETTUNO launched the University for Refugees initiative in 2016, providing migrants and refugees access to degree program scholarships provided by UNINETTUNO. Data collected shows the variety and richness of the backgrounds, knowledge and skills of the users enrolled in University for Refugees. Now they can work together with UNINETTUNO students for increasing their XXI century skills (collaboration, advanced digital skills, critical thinking) and fighting the fake narratives about migrations’ motivations and impact on EU. Students from Psychology, Communication, Law and Economics faculties (from 167 different countries) collaborate creating stories and narratives, enhancing the visibility of the initiative and above all impacting on the general perception of the migration phenomenon in EU.
TITAN will support migrants, refugees and students’ counter-narrative ideation and definition, providing support in verifying information, access to reliable sources, and describing how a fake news spread in social media. TITAN will support both individual and collaborative researchers, while migrants, refugees and students will benefit from the opportunity for acquiring critical reasoning skills, fact-checking skills in an inquiry-based (informal) learning setting. In the broader ecosystem, the contents produced by the participants with the support of TITAN tool will impact citizenship at large through social media and web-based channels, allowing participants to act as “advanced fact-checking-based storytellers” and the social media users to receive validated and reliable information about the actual migration process and its background motivations and impact in their countries.