Cyprus University of Technology: Presentation of the “MedDMO” project against misinformation

The creation of a new Mediterranean partnership that brings together Cyprus, Greece and Malta in the fight against misinformation, is the aim of the MedDMO (Mediterranean Digital Media Observatory) research project, which was presented in Limassol by the Social Informatics Research Group of the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) and the Cyprus Broadcasting Authority.

In his welcome address, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology of CUT, Dr Michael Sirivianos, said that MedDMO is a two-and-a-half-year project, which started on 1 December 2022 and receives funding from the European Commission’s Digital Europe programme, for the creation of national digital media observatories, aiming to extend the reach of the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO).

MedDMO, he continued, acts as a hub for EDMO, covering Europe’s south-eastern border, involving Cyprus, Greece and Malta which, in addition to their geographical proximity, face common challenges in terms of misinformation campaigns, “which often try to create polarisation around European public debates, such as migration and border control issues.”

He said the nine members of the consortium include the National Centre for Research and Technology Development (NERTH) as Project Coordinator, Athens Technology Center S.A., the University of Cyprus, the Cyprus University of Technology, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Times of Malta, the University of Malta, Ellinika Hoaxes and the French News Agency (AFP).

Saying that the truth is becoming increasingly elastic and distorted by false information that creeps into political beliefs, Dr. Sirivianos referred to a recent study in America, which studies the reasons why people support politicians who spread misinformation when the people themselves know it.

“This phenomenon underscores a profound challenge in the fight against disinformation, revealing a frightening moral flexibility,” he said, adding that, according to the research, “people seem to tolerate false information as long as it serves larger political purposes.”

“The study demonstrates that moral flexibility may be the cornerstone that allows misinformation to flourish,” he continued, adding that “people are coming to terms with the fact that politicians don’t tell the truth because they see it as morally justified, which is the most disturbing thing.”

As researchers, he noted, “this perception invites us to a critical examination of our collective morality, understanding the collective morality of a society and the justifications we accept for deception in the political arena or even, more recently, as we have seen in Cyprus, in the religious arena.”

The Dean of the School of Engineering and Technology of the CUT, said finally that “the fight against misinformation is a multi-dimensional battle, it requires the active participation of all sectors of society, from politicians, universities, law enforcement authorities, the judiciary, to defend truth, integrity and impartiality”.

The Director of the Cyprus Broadcasting Authority, Neophytos Epaminondas, also addressed the event, who underlined that the MedDMO project is of particular importance in defending democracy and strengthening media literacy, to which the Authority attaches great importance. “By combating misinformation, we contribute to strengthening critical thinking and creating active citizens,” he added.

He also said that “fact-checking is crucial to ensure that citizens are informed” and that the Authority considers it of utmost importance to inform citizens, to prevent the spread of false news and misinformation and especially to cultivate and continuously strengthen citizens’ skills.

“The information that we will receive from the programme is crucial for the Authority, not only as an important tool for the better execution of its responsibilities in the broadcasting field, but especially for the execution of the new responsibilities that the Authority has recently acquired as the National Coordinator for the implementation and operation of the DSA (Digital Services Act) Regulation,” he added.

It is no coincidence, he continued, that the Regulation itself and the guidelines provided by the European Commission for its implementation, provide for the accreditation, by the National Coordinator, of independent groups or organisations for fact-checking purposes.

Mr.Epaminondas also referred to the Authority’s cooperation to date with the CBCC, which started with the licensing of its radio station in 2011 and continued with the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation in 2014. Indicating that the Memorandum of Cooperation has expired, he expressed the intention of the Broadcasting Authority and its President to sign a new, updated Memorandum of Cooperation with the CBCC as soon as possible.

During the press conference, the MedDMO project was briefly presented by its coordinator, Dr. Nikos Sarris, while the anti-disinformation centre operating at CUT, called “Fact-check Cyprus”, was also presented.

Source: Cyprus University of Technology | News and Announcements (