Press Release: How targeted disinformation can be detected and stopped

15. November 2018

In the policy paper series of the research association "Forum Privatheit" scientists of the DORIAN project publish a paper explaining how disinformation, also known as fake news, can be contained.

How targeted disinformation can be detected and stopped
Social discussions and political opinion-forming processes are increasingly shifting to the online world. However, this offers not only a platform for the free exchange of opinions, but also many gateways for targeted disinformation. The interdisciplinary research project DORIAN has published a policy paper that explains what disinformation is: "Disinformation is publications that are demonstrably factually false or misleading and appear with manipulative intent, are shared and disseminated semi-automatically to fully automatically. Among other things, the paper provides practical tips and suggestions that citizens, the media and online operators, as well as politicians and legislators, can use to make their contribution to maintaining a fair discussion culture and stabilizing democracy.
What can citizens do?
Even without special technical knowledge, citizens can easily recognise disinformation by carrying out plausibility checks: Textual features that point to disinformation include scandalisation, illogical structure and discrepancies between headlines and texts. In many cases, people with a technical affinity can quickly find out whether a photo or video has already appeared in the past and actually belongs to the context by means of a so-called reverse image search. An essential way to contain disinformation is to ensure that it is not disseminated further. Persons who discover disinformation on online platforms or suspect it to be so should not pass it on but report it to the respective distribution platform.
What can online operators do?
Blocking or deleting content or user accounts must be objectively justified - for example, by suspicion of criminal content - must not be arbitrary and must respect freedom of expression in the political debate.
What can media do?
Media should expose and correct. They should not only counter the false report with the correct version, but also "embed" the correction in a story. This fulfils two objectives: On the one hand, the story can help to arouse readers' interest and make it more likely that the correct information will be read and passed on. On the other hand, the packaging in a story can contribute to the fact that the right - and not the wrong - information is included more firmly in the knowledge base of the recipients.
The recommendations for action have been published in the "Policy Paper" series of the "Forum Privatheit" research association and can be downloaded free of charge.
The project "Discovering and Combating Disinformation" (DORIAN) is carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology (SIT) (coordination), the University of Duisburg-Essen, Media Psychology, the Stuttgart Media University (HdM), Journalism and the Project Group for Compatible Technology Design (provet) at the Scientific Centre for Information Technology Design (ITeG) of the University of Kassel. DORIAN has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research since 1.8.2017 and runs until 2019.


Press release available for download
Press Release
'PolicyPaper Disclose and Combat Disinformation' available for download
Policy Paper 'Detecting and Combating Disinformation'

Project Coordination „DORIAN“:
Dr. Michael Kreutzer
Fraunhofer-Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT
Tel.: 06151 869-348

Speaker „Forum Privatheit“:
Prof. Dr. Alexander Roßnagel
University of Kassel
Project group for constitutionally compatible technology design (provet)
Scientific Center for Information Technology Design (ITeG)
Tel: 0561/804-3130 oder 2874

Project Coordination „Forum Privatheit“:
Dr. Michael Friedewald
Project Coordinator„Forum Privatheit“
Fraunhofer-Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI
Competence Center New Technologies
Tel.: 0721 6809-146

Press and Communication „Forum Privatheit“:
Barbara Ferrarese, M.A.
Press and Communication „Forum Privatheit“
Fraunhofer-Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI
Tel.: +49 721 6809-678