Judith Neilson Institute deploys Aussie-first disinformation tech ahead of Federal Election

The Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas (JNI) has invested in cutting-edge disinformation detection and tracking software techniques to be used for the upcoming Australian Federal election.

Under the Mosaic Project, JNI aims to provide a social media disinformation track, trace and debunking services for newsrooms around Australia. The Project will act as a free and open source service for editors and journalists whose time and resources are already stretched during the campaign.

The Mosaic Project will bring together global think rank the Institute for strategic Dialogue (ISD) which has pioneered social media techniques successfully deployed in US and German elections; independent research entity RMIT FactLab; and technology from CASM Technology, winner of the 2021 US-Paris Tech Prize for innovative responses to disinformation.

The Project will see RMIT FactLab use both manual and automated tools and techniques to monitor, track and trace the velocity of disinformation campaigns targeting Australian voters on social media during the election campaign.

RMIT FactLab will utilise The Beam technology developed by ISD and CASM to monitor and map harmful disinformation as it travels across social platforms in real time. The Project will also see a dedicated unit at RMIT FactLab monitor MPs, political actors from Australia and overseas, extremist groups, and others to identify and debunk misinformation.

Once a disinformation campaign or item is identified, understood to be gaining traction on social media, and is debunked, RMIT FactLab will provide open-source updates to media, digital platforms and relevant officials.

Mark Ryan, executive director of JNI said: “The sheer volume of information available to voters online means journalists with limited resources and time have no hope of catching every bad actor’s Tweet, Facebook comment or Reddit post.”

Devi Mallal, media and research lead at RMIT FactLab said: “As a research centre dedicated to countering the harmful effects of disinformation online, RMIT FactLab is delighted to be participating in the Mosaic project. The generous support from JNI and mentoring from ISD, who are internationally recognised leaders in the field, make this project a crucial tool in our endeavour to combine best-in-class technology with journalistic rigour. We are very much looking forward to keeping the Australian public informed during the upcoming federal election.”

Jiore Craig, head of digital integrity at ISD added: “ISD is pleased to partner with JNI to tackle online threats to the democratic process. Misinformation, hate speech, and deception online put voters’ rights to engage in a free and fair election at risk. It is critical for democracy in 2022 that voters are able to access robust and trustworthy information when informing their choice on election day.”


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