Three WeVerify teams @EUvsVirus Hackathon

By on May 3rd, 2020 in Events, News

From 24 to 26 April 2020, Europe joined forces to develop innovative solutions for coronavirus-related challenges in the EUvsVirus hackathon, the official and worldwide programming, coding and developments event to fight COVID-19, organised by the EU Commission.

The challenges were divided into several topical areas. The participating WeVerify teams focused on the area Social & Political Cohesion – Mitigating fake news spreading, where our experience and knowledge about disinformation helped us understand many of the underlying problems, and where we felt most suited to suggest a variety of solutions.

We formed three teams, with the overarching aim to enhance WeVerify tools and technology and leverage their synergies to help tackle the COVID-19 disinfodemic.

Our teams worked on three complementary challenges:

  • Team 1 (led by Ontotext): Database of known fakes and verification assistant;
  • Team 2 (led by Sheffield University): Disinformation annotation and machine learning-based categorisation
  • Team 3 (led by EUDL and AFP): COVID-19 Disinformation detection through cross-social network search and analysis

Team 1 worked on enhancing the WeVerify Database of Known Fakes (DBKF) with COVID-19 debunks published by IFCN-certified fact-checkers, and then providing a browser-based verification assistant with which users (e.g. fact-checkers, citizens) can easily provide the URL or content of a post and find any matching debunks. A video of the results is available here.

Example of automatic recommendation of relevant debunks
from the WeVerify database

Team 2 worked on automatic classification of COVID-19-related posts into new, distinct categories (e.g. origin, social distancing, government lockdown policies). The ability to do so automatically and reliably is paramount, as fact-checkers can then easily navigate prior debunks related only to the relevant topic (e.g. origin) in order to speed-up their work. Further details and a demo video are available in this dedicated blog post.

Examples of COVID-19 disinformation classification

Team 3 worked on enhancing the incipient Twitter social network analysis feature to be released in the InVID-WeVerify verification plugin (currently used by more than 25k journalists and fact-checkers worldwide). During the hackathon, the team enhanced it with new functionalities to reveal accounts and websites spreading COVID-19 related disinformation, as well as highlighting possible disinformation cross-postings around networks. Further details and a demo video are available here.

New Verification Plugin Functionality

All in all, a very successful event with lots of new insights and promising results. Our project work was enhanced significantly by this initiative, and we will follow up on many of the activities. Stay tuned!

Author: Kalina Bontcheva (University of Sheffield)
Editor: Jochen Spangenberg (Deutsche Welle) Privacy Policy

1. Purpose

The purpose of this Privacy Policy is to describe what we collect, use and sometimes share information about you through our online interfaces (e.g., websites and email) owned and controlled by us, including WeVerify and all subdomains (collectively referred to herein as the “Site”).

At WeVerify, we believe that you should have control of your data. Control starts with information. This is why you should know what data we collect from you and how we use it.

This notice and the accompanying policy is to enable you to make the best decisions about the information that you choose to share with us.2

2. Privacy Policy

By accessing and using any of WeVerify site, demonstrators or publicly available services, you expressly and knowingly consent to the information collection and use practices as described in this Privacy Policy.

3. Our Privacy Commitment

Our commitment to your privacy, is based on the following principles which we apply to our use of both your personally identifiable data (“Your Personal Data” or generally “Personal Data”) and to certain anonymous information we collect when you visit our Sites (“Technical Information”, and together with Personal Data, “Your Data”):

  • We will describe Your Data we will collect;
  • We will inform you clearly about our collection and use of Your Data;
  • We will either seek your express informed consent or rely on other legally permissible bases for the use of Your Data – either way, we will inform you of the basis for our use of Your Data;
  • We will give you control over the privacy preferences that apply to Your Data, including the rights to (a) change your mind about our use, (b) have access to change or correct inaccurate aspects of Your Data, and (c) require that we delete all or parts of Your Data (d) request Your Data in a portable format;
  • We will not sell or rent Your Personal Data to others;
  • We endeavor to maximize the protection of Your Data, and provide you with prompt notice in the unlikely event that a data loss incident or breach occurs; and
  • We will endeavor to be completely transparent and open about our data privacy policies and practices.

4. What Information does this Privacy Policy cover?

This Privacy Policy covers information we collect from you through all of our channels, including website, email and others. Some of our website’s functionality can be used without revealing any of Your Data. In order to access certain products, demonstrators or services, you may need to submit, or we may collect information that can be used to identify you.

Your Personal Data can include information such as your name and email address, among other things. You are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the information you submit to us. Inaccurate information may affect your ability to use the site, download products, any follow-up information you request, and our ability to contact you. For example, your email address should be kept current because that is one of the primary manners in which we communicate with you.

5. How do we collect information?

We collect Your Data in the following ways:

  • You give it to us when you download software or documentation; register for an event such as a webinar; sign up for a newsletter; fill a form on the website or via any other sales or marketing channel;
  • You give it to us by email or phone inquiries or
  • We automatically collect Technical Information when you visit our Sites.

6. What information do we collect?  

When filling any form on the website, we collect Personal Data such as name; phone; email; company name, website and address; job title and category; social media data and nature of the interest.

In addition, we enrich the Personal Data above with Technical Information, related to:

  1. Conversion point (when, where, what campaign, source);
  2. Activity (dates of contact, email opens, link clicks, website visits, etc.);
  3. Opt-in Date to trace your consent;
  4. CRM identifiers;

When processing payments we additionally collect VAT ID, company identification and other information for invoicing and tax purposes.

7. How do we use Your Data collected at our sites?

We will use Your Data to:

  • Provide information, product or a service requested or consented to by you.
  • Comply with relevant contractual obligations with you and other third parties.
  • Improve Site performance and content, including troubleshooting and diagnostics.
  • Improve our engagement and interaction with you.
  • Facilitate your attendance at and participation in our events, communities or blogs.
  • Process a request or payment submitted to us.
  • Comply with legal requests.

8. What are your rights to control Your Data?

You have the right to request that we:

  • provide access to any of Your Personal Data we hold about you;
  • prevent the processing of Your Personal Data for direct marketing purposes;
  • update any of Your Personal Data which is out of date or incorrect;
  • delete Your Personal Data which we are holding about you;
  • restrict the way that we process Your Personal Data;
  • provide Your Personal Data to a third party provider of services; or
  • provide you with a copy of Your Personal Data which we hold about you.

We try to answer every email promptly where possible and provide our response within the time period stated by applicable law. Keep in mind, however, that there will be residual information that will remain within our databases, access logs and other records, which may or may not contain Your Personal Data. Please also note that certain parts of Your Personal Data may be exempt from such requests in certain circumstances, which may include if we need to keep processing Your Personal Data to comply with a legal obligation.

When you email us with a request, we may ask that you provide us with information necessary to confirm your identity.

8. What data do we retain?

We will only retain Your Data stored on our servers in accordance with the legitimate needs of our business and as required or permitted by applicable law. We will not retain any unused Personal Data on our systems longer than necessary for legitimate business purposes.