CrossOver tracks and measures the influence of content recommendation algorithms on social media in select countries and Finland, exposing how they can lead to mis- and disinformation. We monitor, investigate, expose and respond to the spread of dubious and nefarious content in both Finnish on Youtube, Google News, TikTok, Instagram and more.
This project unites Faktabaari and Check First. Thanks to each member’s experience and speciality, the consortium brings a cohesive approach to the issue of ramping disinformation. Finland, due to its recent NATO membership, closeness to Russia, and upcoming elections, is particularly susceptible to the phenomenon. To address this, software firm CheckFirst and fact checking and digital literacy NGO Faktabaari have partnered to develop a cutting-edge project designed to measure and analyse the spread of disinformation across digital platforms through algorithmic recommendations ahead of the Finnish presidential and European elections of 2024.
Building on top of the CrossOver pilot project realised in Belgium, CheckFirst will establish a network of monitoring devices installed in the homes of volunteers. This network will allow for the real-time measurement of algorithmic content recommendations on various platforms, generating valuable data on how disinformation reaches and influences Finnish audiences. Data will also be collected through the platforms’ official APIs. As experts in data processing, CheckFirst will then analyse and interpret the collected data to identify patterns and trends. Collected data will be publicly available on online dashboards.
Faktabaari will delve into narratives uncovered by this data, using their expertise in fact-checking and media literacy to create focus reports about their observations and data analysis led during both electoral campaigns. The reports will aim at exposing the origins of identified narratives. Investigation findings will be shared to the public, policymakers, journalists, NGOs, and scholars. Webinars, events, and articles will further disseminate the findings, leveraging the reach of existing CrossOver and partner channels.
The unique collaboration between CheckFirst and Faktabaari capitalises on their respective expertise in software engineering, data analysis, fact-checking, and media literacy to create a robust and reliable framework for evaluating the impact of disinformation on Finnish society.
Objectives of the CrossOver Finland project:
Objective 1: Monitoring of recommendation algorithms on up to 10 platforms in order to detect potential foreign information manipulations and interference and emerging disinformation. Using and augmenting the existing CrossOver software stack, together with the deployment of a network of monitoring devices across Finland, the project will create Finland-focused monitoring dashboards.
Objective 2: Identify the instigators, actors, narratives, and targets of foreign information manipulations and interference and disinformation campaigns, both in everyday life and in political momentums such as the 2024 EU and Finnish presidential elections. This will help identify the sources that are purveyors of disinformation and foreign information manipulation and interference.
Objective 3: Disclose these actors, narratives and mechanisms and bring to light the tactics and techniques they apply through public communication activities in order to raise awareness among the public and among policy makers through notably MIL content. Raise the public’s algo-literacy (the fact that recommender systems are used by platforms to present content to them). In particular, this includes the mobilisation of existing resources (such as the project website in English) and the high-impact, wide disclosure of the investigative findings through small and large national and regional media, EDMO, and multiple other dissemination channels. This will be complemented by events, webinars, social media campaigns, and other dissemination activities.
Objective 4: Formulate recommendations to various stakeholders including policy makers, platforms or media entities by leveraging a proven multidisciplinary team and foster knowledge sharing between purveyors of the fight against disinformation. CrossOver Finland will contribute to a virtuous loop of knowledge sharing by including journalists, policy makers, experts, and online platforms, triggering conversations among them. CrossOver Finland will be part of a wider network monitoring recommendation algorithms, allowing for comparisons between regions of the world.
Faktabaari is a Finnish fact-checking and digital information literacy service. Since 2014, it has regularly contributed to fact-based information circulation with innovative projects and fact-checks. It adheres to the Finnish ethical code for journalists and is engaged within the EDMO NORDIS hub. Faktabaari Editor includes professional journalists, researchers, EU experts, teachers and technical specialists supported by a broader community of topic experts, as well as information and media literacy specialists.
CheckFirst is a Finnish software and methodologies company that helps journalists, citizens and policy makers fight disinformation all around the globe. The company was born from a common vision from its co-founders: empower people with quality tools and methodologies in order to slow down the spread of disinformation and learn on the way the best possible techniques to eventually tackle it.
Previous iteration of the CrossOver project in Belgium
Previous iteration of the Crossover project under grant agreement LC-01682253 with the European Commission.
CrossOver Belgium was a project led together by EU DisinfoLab, Apache, SavoirDevenir* and Check First. Thanks to each member’s experience and speciality, the consortium brings a cohesive approach to the issue of ramping disinformation in French and Dutch.
Eu DisinfoLab, is a young independent NGO based in Brussels and focused on researching and tackling sophisticated disinformation campaigns targeting the EU, its member states, core institutions, and core values.
Apache is a Belgian independent news outlet in Dutch, asking the questions that commercial media companies avoid. As an independent news medium, it challenges those in power. This is how Apache gives a voice to people who don’t have one. Our investigative journalists take the time needed to expose what goes wrong.
Savoir*Devenir is an NGO aiming at empowering citizens through a better understanding of their online presence. It achieves its goals through media and information literacy, digital literacy and internet governance training actions. *Savoir et devenir* is backed by the Savoir*Devenir UNESCO University Chair at the Sorbonne Nouvelle university in Paris.
Check First is a Finnish software and methodologies start-up that helps journalists, citizens and policy makers fight disinformation all around the globe. The company was born from a common vision from its co-founders: empower people with quality tools and methodologies in order to slow down the spread of disinformation and learn on the way the best possible techniques to eventually tackle it.
This association of skillsets will permit:
Creation of a public cross-media monitoring Dashboard for Belgium. This tool will show which stories are likely to be the most pushed by content recommendation algorithms on Youtube and Twitter
Leading of cross-platform and cross-lingual investigations of selected high-priority and high-impact disinformation campaigns identified thanks to the dashboard
Organisation of public events, webinars and other communication activities aimed at citizens to raise their awareness of online disinformation and empower them to fight it.
Organisation of media and information literacy campaigns and events in French and Dutch
Training for journalists working at Apache and those at the Belgian media organisations on the use of state- of-the art tools and techniques to detect and properly debunk disinformation campaigns
Production of a Media and Information Literacy Handbook for all
Altogether, these goals are part of the broader objectives of the CrossOver project:
Objective 1: To monitor diverse social platforms, detect emerging disinformation in French and Dutch, assess its impact and analyse its instigators, actors, narratives, and targets. This will entail cross-platform application of investigative journalism, open source investigation techniques (OSINT), and social network analysis, in order to identify, uncover, and investigate disinformation campaigns and networks in Belgium but also neighbouring France.
Objective 2: To carry out timely disclosure of disinformation campaigns and to undertake a rich programme of public communication activities. In particular, this includes the creation of a dedicated project web site in French, Dutch, and English and the high-impact, wide disclosure of the investigative findings through small and large national and regional media, EDMO, and multiple other dissemination channels. This will be complemented by events, webinars, newsletter, social media campaigns, and other dissemination activities.
Objective 3: To undertake media and information literacy activities at national/regional level in French and Dutch. In particular, citizen- and school-children oriented media and information literacy materials and campaigns will be organised, complemented by journalist and MIL trainer modules and events. CrossOver will also create localised versions of existing MIL materials produced by EDMO, as well as contribute new citizen-oriented MIL materials in French and Dutch to EDMO.
Objective 4: To sustain the CrossOver Belgian and French multidisciplinary team and its already committed community of over 30 partners and experts, as well as preserve its independence. Namely, CrossOver will formulate and begin to explore a strategy for long-term sustainability of the disinformation monitoring and disclosure activities, the CrossOver stakeholder engagement activities, its web presence, media and information literacy, and policy-oriented activities. From its very inception, CrossOver has been formulated as an Action independent of national governments, social platforms, and other European and national activities.
Report on media literacy campaigns and events: version 1
Report on impact of disinformation campaigns: version 1
Summary report on investigated disinformation campaigns: version 1