In today’s social media world, vast amounts of information are produced in colossal rates and by enormous numbers of sources, to be delivered to huge audiences. The question is: has what has been posted, actually happened? Some news is bound to be fake – and as a result this has caused a decline in trust in the news.

According to the Reuters Digital News Report 2019, the average level of trust in the news in general is down 2 percentage points to 42% compared to 2018, while only 49% of the respondents pinpoint that they trust the news media they use.  At the same time, in all 28 EU member states, at least 7 out of 10 citizens perceive fake news to be a problem in democracy (Eurobarometer 2019, Fake news and disinformation online). Disinformation has always been a big challenge, but social media intensified the problem exponentially.

To combat this, and according to a 2019 market report by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), ‘The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms, over the past year, 44% of newsrooms and 37% of journalists have undertaken more fact-checking activities. Today, more than twice as many journalists use social media verification tools as did two years ago. In 2017, the ICFJ found that only 11% of journalists used any kind of social media verification tools and/or services. Two years later, this trend has changed significantly, as 39% of journalists use digital tools to fact-check and verify information daily, and 56% do so at least weekly. These include the use of tools such as fact-checking websites, tools for detecting plagiarism, Google Fact Check and Facebook Fact Checker, reverse image search engines and social media verification platforms.

When it comes to digital fact-checking tools, meet Truly Media, a verification platform that aims to help journalists to better deal with the increased volume and complexity of online disinformation. Given the fact that automated verification and fact-checking may never become possible and human judgement will always be necessary, Truly Media aims to assist journalists with the various fact-checking and verification tasks they perform, through the optimisation of their workflow, the facilitation of collaboration, the integration of multiple fact-checking tools, the use of analytics, and ultimately through time-saving and increased efficiency and effectiveness.

What verification functionalities can journalists exploit from Truly Media?

Advanced Search & Filtering

  • In order to monitor social media content journalists can set up different ‘Feeds’, based on specific keywords, through a friendly and easy-to-use interface. Each feed is built based on content from a single source, mainly Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and VK. Integration with Slack allows users to easily import content from their Slack channels into Truly Media. All elements within a feed can be filtered using a variety of criteria, such as the as the time, source, language, and keywords, depending on the capabilities of the particular social media channel.
  • Journalists can cross-search and explore aggregated content from different platforms. With a single search query, users can explore content from Google, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, 4chan’s /pol channel, and news websites. In order to make the search easier, they are also able to use a set of advanced filters to include or exclude terms, as well as easy-to-use Google search operators.
  • Google Translation tools are offered to make dealing with foreign language content easier.

Truly Media: Creating a new feed screenshot

Collaborative Content Organisation, Curation & Archiving

  • Truly Media supports common workspaces, called ‘Collections’, where fact checkers and collaborating journalists can define working teams to perform particular tasks on relevant content and together decide on how trustworthy the information they have found is.
  • Users can add content inside a Collection from their feeds. The contents of each Collection can further be enhanced by directly importing content from Facebook, Twitter, Tweetdeck and YouTube, using a browser extension.
  • Users can also upload media files and even paste links from social media posts or websites to add interesting content inside their Collections. All this extra content is automatically available for further investigation.
  • Journalists can also add notes and tags to a specific item or mark certain items as important. All changes performed on Collection items are visible in real-time to all the members of the team. It is also possible to search for specific items within a Collection by applying filters (search by tag, by status, by source or by assignee) and change the way items are sorted.
  • Since everything is organised and saved inside Truly Media, users can make sure that their work and findings are archived. Through a “global search” feature, users can retrieve saved content, while content inside a Collection can be exported to CSV for archiving or further analysis purposes.

Truly Media: Collection view

Collaboration in real-time in and out of a news organisation

  • Journalists can work collaboratively to verify photos, videos, text, and social media accounts in real-time, by using a common workspace and a set of communication channels, like email notifications, Slack messaging, group chats, direct messages, etc.
  • Collections and all individual items within a Collection are viewable by all team members. Each Collection has a dedicated chat where team members working on it can communicate. All activities that took place in a Collection are logged and can be viewed by all.
  • Collaboration is a rather important part of the verification process, since individual users need to find and connect with other stakeholders to share their expertise or explore further collaborations. Truly Media allows users to share their Collections with other team members or invite other organisations that use the platform to work together.

Digital content verification on the spot

Journalists can select the most important items for their story and verify each item individually using a verification checklist and integrated third-party verification tools. With the verification checklist, journalists can record the results of their analysis on a specific Collection item. The checklist has been designed based on the workflow of investigative journalism. Last but not least, journalists can mark down each item’s verification status as raw, pending, unclear, verified or fake.

Truly Media provides a variety of tools which help users determine the veracity of online content, like the following:

Image and Video Verification support

One of the most common issues for journalists is verifying images and videos from websites, social media and YouTube. With Truly Media, journalists can examine the authenticity of a photo or a video with:

  • Reverse Image Searches: If journalists want to know an image’s origin or even find similar photos, they can search with the image URL or the file itself on the Web (in reverse image search engines like Google images or Yandex) and get information on whether the specific material has been used again, even identify near duplicate and modified images. Truly Media allows you to directly send images or video frames to Google, Yandex, and TinEye.
  • Verification by location: Google Maps and Street View have been integrated inside Truly Media to allow users to easily check locations, find the right one and save the coordinates in the item’s Checklist. You can also check weather conditions on a particular day and time in a specific location by searching the specific location and date on Wolfram Alpha.
  • Image Tools: Examine and analyse images through a set of functionalities like image flipping, using a magnifier, cropping or annotating parts of the image. Apply a set of image analysis algorithms like Error level analysis (ELA) and Double Quantization (DQ) analysis to assess the authenticity of an image.
Twitter content analysis with TruthNest

When journalists discover the occurrence of an event, they need to verify this as quickly as possible so that they are the first to publish it without risking to report something that can be later proven false. TruthNest is the tool that can prove critical at times in minimising the time from event discovery to story publication.

TruthNest screenshot

TruthNest is a Twitter analytics tool, which is integrated into Truly Media to assist journalists with verifying social media content. The tool uses several metrics in order to retrieve and provide us with a variety of analytics that can help gain additional insights about a Twitter account. In specific, by analysing Twitter user accounts based on their activity, network and influence, TruthNest allows journalists to:

  • access in-depth twitter analytics
  • assess the credibility of a source
  • detect trolls and bots

TruthNest’s analytics produce a set of alerts or flags which highlight suspicious behaviour and generate a bot probability score for the analysed Twitter account.

In Truly Media, we believe that we have a responsibility to minimise the spread of disinformation; and this starts by supporting journalism. As Matt Cooke, Head of Partnerships and Training, at Google says, “There is nothing that will replace journalism, your analysis, and your integrity, but there are digital tools that can help you make that decision yourself.” By exploiting a toolkit of the most effective internal and third party verification tools mentioned above, our collaborative, verification platform is here to support journalists in gathering information and making decisions. We verify together, in real time.

Interested? Drop us a line at info@truly.media


Digger will provide functionalities in Truly Media to detect audio tampering in videos.

 

 

What you are facing here is a deepfake: machine-learning technology used to  manipulate or fabricate audio and video to make people do and say things that they never did or said. They can be extremely realistic and convincing but are actually fake.

 

It is challenging to verify content which has been stripped of context, edited, mislabeled or staged. What is even more complex is to verify content that has been  modified. Synthetic audiovisual media can be generated with a variety of deep learning techniques. Although the technology is still improving and not sophisticated it is still widely available.

 

In the Digger project we will develop software together with Deutsche Welle, ATC and Fraunhofer IDMT to detect deepfakes by using state-of-the-art audio forensics technologies.

 

Our approach makes use of:

  • Microphone analysis
  • Electrical Network Frequency analysis
  • Codec analysis
  • Audio segment matching

 

These functionalities will be integrated in Truly Media and made available to verification experts via API.

 

In the meantime: The Digger project also aims to develop a community to share knowledge and initiate collaboration in the field of deepfake detection. Want to join? Follow us on Twitter: @digger_project. See you there!


The Truly Media team is pleased and honoured to announce that our platform for collaborative verification is now also used in Mongolia. Organized by Deutsche Welle Akademie, and coordinated on location by the Mongolian Center for Investigative Reporters, Fact Check Mongolia was launched in early September 2019.

The initiative brings together various Mongolian media organizations that collaboratively analyse and verify digital information, especially in the run-up to the upcoming 2020 elections. Participating journalists will use Truly Media, supplied by DW Innovation and ATC iLab, in their verification efforts. We are very proud that we can support these activities – thereby helping Mongolian journalists in their endeavors to report independently and accurately.

Υou can read a more detailed article by the International Factchecking Network at Poynter about the activities – just click here
For more information, see also:


Recently, the European Commission released an article on Medium, referring to the 10 actions that the Commission undertakes in order to tackle ‘one of the biggest challenges democracies face today’, disinformation. This phenomenon is nothing new, however it can ‘affect public opinion, create divisions in society and undermine trust in public institutions and electoral systems’.

At the same time, the growth of social media has made it both easier and faster for disinformation to spread across several channels. The European Union has been listening to the concerns raised about this global phenomenon and decided to bring together the right organizations to tackle it.

In particular, one of the 10 measures that the EU undertakes to counter disinformation is to facilitate the work of fact-checkers by selecting Truly Media to empower the European Observatory against Disinformation, with a  collaborative platform for verification. As the European Commission mentions in its article ‘the work of independent fact-checkers and researchers is becoming more important in the age of disinformation. By bringing together teams from different EU countries and creating a more cohesive community that can share their experiences, they can continue to fine-tune the way they work. One way the EU helps is by investing in new technologies that verify content and track the spread of disinformation across social media, such as Truly Media.’

By incorporating a multitude of tools, Truly Media allows teams of journalists, investigators, fact-checkers, or researchers working in the same organization to collaboratively assess the validity of online content, such as photos, videos, social media accounts, etc. Journalists can select the most important items for their story and verify each item individually using a verification checklist and integrated third-party verification tools like Google Maps, Mappilary, or TinEye.

In addition to being used by broadcasters and media organizations, Truly Media:

It is a great honor for the whole team behind Truly Media, Athens Technology Center (ATC) and Deutsche Welle (DW), to be part of this significant effort with the EU to ‘tackle the spread and impact of online disinformation in Europe and ensure the protection of European values and democratic systems’.

Below you can see how the EU is fighting disinformation

You can read the whole article on the 10 ways the EU is fighting disinformation here.

 


German Public Service Broadcaster ZDF chooses Truly Media to support editorial verification

Athens Technology Center S.A. (ATC) is pleased to announce that Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), one of Europe’s biggest public service broadcasters and leading media organization in Germany, has acquired a Truly Media licence to support fact checking and verification, especially for its news programmes.

Truly Media supports ZDF’s recently established fact checking team to aggregate and verify content from a diverse range of sources with a particular focus on Social Networks. The platform has already been proven to be a valuable tool for Deutsche Welle’s (DW’s) editorial teams and has also been tested by various German media organisations during the 2017 German Elections.

Nikos Sarris, Head of ATC’s Innovation Lab noted: “Truly Media has its technical origins in R&D projects; yet, business-wise, it incorporates ATC’s 15+ years of experience in providing ICT solutions to the media industry and DW’s unique knowledge of contemporary user needs and workflows.  We are more than proud of this new partnership, also because it proves that public media organisations invest in new technologies to fight disinformation, which is so seriously harming democracies all around the world.”.

Wilfried Runde, Head of Research and Cooperation Projects at Deutsche Welle, adds: “Having ZDF join the Truly Media user base is really exciting. ZDF’s specific requirements to support a wide range of quality news programmes with verification and fact checking features will provide excellent opportunities for collaborative verification, and also allows us to further improve the platform for all current and future customers.

The community is growing!

In this context it is worth noting that Truly Media also received positive feedback from all the organizations that are currently testing the platform as part of the European Observatory against Disinformation.


The GEN Summit is the annual meeting of the largest network of CEOs, editorial directors, editors-in-chief and senior media executives from both the print and online sector, coming together from around the world. During the conference, a group of diverse speakers and attendees who are at the forefront of journalism, media, and technology, share their ideas and discuss many of the challenges the news industry is facing.

 

This year, the GEN Summit will focus on the “VVV Challenges: Voice, Visual Journalism and Verification“: three areas in which the global media industry has identified major disruptions due to recent developments in Artificial Intelligence, storytelling and disinformation.

In this context, Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international public service broadcaster, and Athens Technology Center (ATC), a leading software provider for publishers and news agencies, once again join forces and participate in the event showcasing Truly Media, the collaborative platform they developed to help users analyse and assess the trustworthiness of digital content.

The platform supports media organisations in their efforts to fight disinformation, while it has also been proven highly useful in other critical areas, as shown by Amnesty International using Truly Media to investigate human rights violations.

 

 


European Science-Media Hub will use Truly Media to monitor scientific publications

We are honoured to announce that the European Science-Media Hub (ESMH), operating under the responsibility of the European Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and managed by a team within the Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), is now using Truly Media in order to provide evidence-based information and better science communication to all.

 

Vitalba Crivello, Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services, pointed out the significance of having enhanced media monitoring and media intelligence tools for the ESMH to follow the most popular topics in the field of science and technology on different platforms: magazines, newspapers and social media.

In addition , Theo Karapiperis, Head of the Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA), stressed the fact that Truly Media will be an ideal complement to the IT toolbox used by the ESMH to fulfil its mission of making evidence-based information available to journalists, other media and citizens about new scientific developments and scientific topics that attract media attention, and assisting them in identifying and tackling disinformation.

With Truly Media, media professionals as well as human rights organizations can exploit a set of advanced digital tools for verifying news (text, images or videos) as they are shared directly in social media, in real time, allowing their users to cooperate across organisational boundaries, time zones and geographic regions. In addition to Truly Media being used by broadcasters and media organisations, this collaborative platform, developed and provided by Athens Technology  Center (ATC) and Deutsche Welle  (DW), Germany’s international public service broadcaster,

In the light of the above new contract with the European Science Media Hub, Yiannis Kliafas, ATC’s General Manager stated: “Truly Media incorporates ATC’s 15+ years of experience in the media and news industry. We are more than proud of this new partnership, mainly because it solidifies our active role to support the EU’s strategic effort to fight disinformation, following similar initiatives we also take part in, like the European Observatory for fighting Disinformation and the WeVerify project”.

How can scientists, policymakers and journalists work better together in order to tackle misinformation and provide evidence-based information for people?

The European Science-Media Hub creates a network among policymakers, scientists and media involving science, academia, educational and research entities, and professional associations of journalists and scientists.

 

 


(Photo credit: Patrick Leusch / DW)

From 11 to 13 June Deutsche Welle hosted the Global Media Forum, a conference attended by more than 2,000 participants. This year’s topic: global inequalities.

Three conference days were packed with a versatile programme. Speakers and attendees made it to Bonn, the former German capital, from all over the world. One of the highlights of Day 1 was the keynote of Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society.

After her keynote, Deutsche Welle’s Jochen Spangenberg had the unique opportunity to present Truly Media to the EU Commissioner.

Commissioner Gabriel was rather pleased with and interested in what she saw. She also inquired about possible uses of Truly Media in the EU context. All this also has to be seen in the context of the EU’s initiatives to fight misinformation, something that was initiated by Mariya Gabriel and her Directorate on the European level.

The fact that Truly Media is based on outcomes of the EU co-funded research project REVEAL made the Commissioner’s smile even brighter, as it showcases well how EU-funded research can lead to successful products and services that are appreciated by their respective user communities.

Our team, in turn, is very grateful in having had the opportunity to showcase Truly Media to the Commissioner in charge of the Digital Economy and Society.


Deutsche Welle, ATC’s Truly Media partner, was founded and started broadcasting in 1953. Consequently, Deutsche Welle is having its 65th anniversary in 2018. More than one reason to celebrate!

In addition to staff parties and looking back on 65 years of broadcasting in Deutsche Welle programmes, the occasion was commemorated with two formal, high profile events. Truly Media featured in both of them. Obviously, we are delighted!

Truly Media was chosen as one of nine Deutsche Welle ‘highlight projects’ that were presented and showcased at the German Foreign Office on 30 May 2018. Members of the German diplomatic services were introduced to the platform and then had the opportunity to see it in operation live. Julia Bayer and Jochen Spangenberg represented Truly Media on the day.

 

Julia Bayer and Jochen Spangenberg at the Truly Media stand at the German Foreign Office (Photo credit: DW)

 

The ‘big day’ was a week later, on 5 June. It saw the main event that celebrated 65 years of Deutsche Welle. More than 300 people, mostly Members of Parliament, Ministers, State Secretaries, DW Board members, current and former DW staff and invited dignitaries met at Paul-Loebe-Haus, which is part of the German Parliament or Bundestag, as we say in German. The guest of honour: German chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel.

Wilfried Runde and Jochen Spangenberg represented Truly Media. Not only did they show the platform and its features, and the concept behind it, to attendees of the celebrations. Jochen was also given the unique opportunity to give a brief Truly Media demo to chancellor Angela Merkel. Her comments at the end were smart and sweet: “well done – keep going”.


Jochen Spangenberg presenting Truly Media to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
With State Minister for Culture and Media Monika Grütters and DW Director-General Peter Limbourg (Photo credit: Jan Roehl)

 

Not much else we can add but that we will certainly keep going, and were delighted to be given the opportunity to present Truly Media at these high profile events. More than one reason to celebrate!