Social Observatory for Disinformation and Social Media Analysis
| Social Observatory for Disinformation and Social Media Analysis|
|Interests||Credibility Coalition, censorship, fact-checking|
|Membership||• Pagella Politica|
• Athens Technology Centre
• Aarhus University
|EU-funded "fact checker".|
The Social Observatory for Disinformation and Social Media Analysis (SOMA) is a EU-funded project for "the ‘good guys’" to "monitor and tackle online disinformation".
In a bizarre twist of strength relations between the lavish funding available to fact-checkers and independent media, SOMA declares "disinformation is exploding by the day. The ’bad guys’ are too many and too powerful. We need to combine powers to have any chance of prevailing."
Even though allegedly private, the project "includes functionalities that provide an easy communication channel with official sources as the European Parliament, the European Commission and Eurostat for requesting their official position in ongoing investigations;" and is "in contact with major social networks to gain better access to their content and data."
The members groups are mostly from Greece, with some from the rest of Europe, including Pagella Politica. In a curious wording in the member list, it states "All members who have agreed for their names to be publicly listed are shown below", implying there are more embarrassing members, possibly (a renamed?) Integrity Initiative.
Following the normal fact-checking route of catching politicians in uninteresting claims ("Is it true that Italy was the «first major European country» to adopt a contract-tracing app?"- "Pagella Politica fact-checked Pisano’s claim, and found it to be slightly inaccurate.") with fact-checking that is directed to reinforce government narratives in things that matter ("Fianna Fáil TD Thomas Byrne suggested that Russian bots are amplifying social media posts by a campaign group, Fairer Future, opposed to the government deal"...."It is generally assumed that malicious bots aim to create division and amplify tensions."
The project is co-funded by the European Union. Feeling self-conscious that the project might appear as a state/EU led effort at censorship, it feels compelled to add that the European Commission is only "involved as funder of SOMA. The EC will never intervene in your work" - but this is sidestepping the point, as they would never have received the funding in the first place if they didn't do the wanted type of work.
SOMA has other sponsors apart from the EU, but it is not stated who they are.
During a long-term economic crisis, such an offer of EU and other money would be tempting in Greece, where steady and easy work, including trips seminars abroad, is not easy to come by.
SOMA mentions a "duration of the SOMA project until May 2021", but it is not clear whether it will close after that.