Summary

The Rumor Debunker offers a solution for internet news analytics, that prevents from being part of online mis- or disinformation campaigns. It promotes the capability to efficiently tackle the true crisis situation in large scale, longterm manmade disasters.

 

Background:

In the last time an increasing amount of misinformation and disinformation becomes visible in all different forms of large scale crisis. For example, in a flooding event in Austria, someone posted on social media, that cholera bacteria are in the water, which was not true. In the Munich gunman event an unprecise situational awareness picture caused a very large amount of bound forces (about 2300) with two possible crime scenes and an unknown number of potential “terrorists”. Social media was a facilitator of a very sensitive public reaction. Even with public communication about social media, it was not possible to calm down the situation. These are examples for a new type of crisis communication with new rules. Traditional journalists lost their role as a gateway in crisis communication. With social media in place, crisis communication is always network centric and needs crisis and disaster manager to use communication tools which keep up with the pace of innovation.

 

Problem:

For network centric communication in crisis and disaster management (CDM) it is very important to gather reliable open source information and to identify sources of misinformation and disinformation quickly in order to be able to react in an efficient manner.

A typical problem is, that the internet provides such a quantity and variety of information that it is impossible, manually to evaluate efficiently, whether information is true or not. It is very easy to overlook whole parts of the internet communication, relevant for a specific crisis, in particular, if these are manmade. Traditional media monitoring methods do not have a proper grade of saturation for strategic communication. Automated methods have proven to be more effective. However, most effective is the combination of automated tools and human intelligence, which is applied in Rumor Debunker.

 

Solution:

The Rumor Debunker offers a solution against the actual trend of constantly improving online mis- and disinformation campaigns in crisis situations. It includes all phases of crisis management by preparing reliable data sets of media communication for unexpected events.

By pointing out actual trends it allows crisis and disaster managers to discover relevant information from internet news for their operational responsibility.

Within the data set, it offers a solution for:

      1. Detect and debunk deception and rumours in social media

In the Rumour Debunker platform, mis – and disinformation is valued by a compound index, based on source reliability, message reliability and tampering detection (not yet integrated). By building up and providing access to a quality checked news data set for the relevant operational information space, the Rumour Debunker platform shows news, marked with the value of the compound index. As such, the news can be valued according to their reliability.

       2.Monitor media coverage

Based on the data set of classified news messages, users of the Rumour Debunker platform get an insight on how they are present in digital media. They get an impression on whether they are target of a hyper-personalized disinformation campaign. As it is expected to become more important for CDM, in the future user might even be warned if they are such a target.

       3.Conduct information analysis and evaluation

By tracking the sources of specific news, back to their origin, the structure behind the disinformation campaign becomes visible. The first publisher might have a specific interest for publishing the information. The publisher, with the highest multiplicator rate is responsible for spreading the disinformation. For strategic network communication in crisis situations, it is very important to know the motivation behind disinformation campaigns, as well as first source and multiplicator sources, so that they can be addressed appropriately and effectively.

 

Method:

The Rumor Debunker collects news from open internet sources and rates their reliability (1-10) based on source reliability, message reliability and tamper detection (ongoing research in other projects).

At the actual state, the Rumor Debunker is built from the following three technical components:

A module for data acquisition from news messages from internet sources

A mobile app for distributing and accessing quality checked news with transparent quality measures.

A web-based platform for administration

This kind of evaluated news may support the decision-making process within crisis and disaster management. The Rumour Debunker will therefore improve the situational awareness by detecting real topics, misinformation and disinformation in web mass media.

 

Technical components of the solution have been developed and tested within 

Innovation stage
Readiness
Crisis Cycle Phase
Solution Platform Rumour Debunker
Technical Description Rumour Debunker
Functional overview RD