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Image: Gokarna Avachat
Australian-first disinformation technology and techniques deployed for federal election
Image: Gokarna Avachat

The Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas (JNI) is investing in the use of cutting edge disinformation detection and tracking software and techniques, the first time they will be used in an Australian federal election. 

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

 JNI’s Mosaic Project will bring together: 

  • global think tank Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), which has pioneered social media technology and techniques successfully deployed in US and German elections; 
  • RMIT FactLab, a stand-alone research entity with the highest standards and protocols for transparency, accuracy and accountability; and 
  • best-in-class technology, CASM Technology.

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

Real-time monitoring and debunking
Utilising The Beam technology developed by ISD and CASM, winner of the 2021 US-Paris Tech Prize for innovative responses to disinformation, RMIT FactLab will monitor and map harmful disinformation as it travels across social platforms in real-time.

Manual track and trace
A dedicated unit at RMIT FactLab will monitor MPs, political actors from Australia and overseas, extremist groups, and others to identify and debunk misinformation in almost real time.  

Stopping disinformation and 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. Sign up here. In addition a blog with live updates will be available here. 

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.

“The outputs of the Mosaic Project are a free tool for journalists and editors which uses leading-edge technology and disinformation tracking techniques to focus newsrooms on fast-spreading falsehoods to cut them down before they can influence the outcome of the federal election. It is designed to bring new skills and technology, as well as additional resources to newsrooms stretched by the demands of the election campaign.”

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 said: “ISD is pleased to partner with JNI to tackle online threats to the democratic process. Misinformation, hate speech, and deception online put voters’ right 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.”

JNI’s Mosaic Project is named after the first widely used graphical web browser, which has been credited for sparking the internet boom of the 1990s.