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CONTEXT & OBJECTIVES

WHISTLING AT THE FAKE: THE CRUCIAL ROLE OF WHISTLEBLOWERS IN COUNTERING DISINFORMATION

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Whistling at the Fake is a research project funded by NATO's Public Diplomacy Division as part of its resilience projects.

Project Overview

During the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the reaction of the general public has been characterized by information received from trusted sources. Accordingly, inconsistent or incorrect information colors decision-making processes and mitigation responses by public authorities and private institutions.

Contextualized against the background of the pandemic, by adopting a multidisciplinary approach, this project aims to address the gap of citizen comprehension of the forms, means, and impacts of misinformation and disinformation, and empower the general public with the tools through which to identify fake news, including appropriate responses to such behaviors.
 

Further, the project will consider the role and effectiveness of whistleblowers and knowledgeable insiders as a means of exposing hostile information activities and increasing public resilience to acts of this nature, before making recommendations that organizations may enact in order to further protect and encourage such disclosures.
 

Considering the importance of public unauthorized disclosures and whistleblowing, a focus on these areas is critical, including considering methods to encourage knowledgeable insiders to identify and report pertinent information and understand specific risks and instances of retaliation when reports of hostile information have been made.

 

Project Objectives
 

By identifying and demonstrating the means and mode of spread of misinformation and disinformation, and how this affects individuals’ perceptions and decision-making ability, the project aims at increasing knowledge, awareness, and understanding amongst citizens on methods of identifying false information, and providing a set of practical suggestions individuals may be able to use when countering disinformation, propaganda, and other hostile information activities more broadly. 
 

Additionally, this project will act as a springboard in identifying deficiencies within the contemporary understanding regarding disinformation, how it spreads, and its destabilizing effects, and therefore prompt and direct future academic activities in the battle to combat these phenomena.

Whistling at the Fake presents a new and novel perspective on addressing mis/disinformation. Specifically, through the mixed medium of recorded round table discussions with relevant experts to be published on the project website; and the production of a brief analytical report entitled "the critical role that whistleblowers play in countering disinformation" which will include a range of practical recommendations for identifying and disclosing hostile information activities, it will be possible for citizens and other critical stakeholders to increase their knowledge, awareness, and understanding of ways to counter disinformation, propaganda, and other hostile information activities.

This will be further supported through an open call aimed at the development and publishing of posters from early-stage researchers, postgraduate and undergraduate students highlighting specific scenarios of potential mis/disinformation.
 

•    The specific knowledge base of the project will be provided by an analytical report with recommendations focused on "the critical role that whistleblowers play in countering disinformation". Such a study will inform and be used as the foundation of and basis for the debate/events that will be held within the project.

•    Due to the wide scope of sources, the primary focus will be on the sources of information that for their nature exert the most relevant impact on society. Such sources manly fall into two categories:

 

  1. commercial claims by corporations through advertisements, press releases, or wider statements, and 

  2. statements by governmental officials or high-level authorities, including ministers, senior civil servants, political advisors, governmental reports, and others in positions of authority.   


•    The project will include a podcast and two thematic roundtables, which will be held online and during which scholars, practitioners, operatives, and representatives of civil society will provide crucial opportunities for further discussion and feedback. Also, a final conference will be held online to disseminate and discuss the final findings of the project.


•    To increase the impact and awareness of the research, impact partners will be identified and announced during the project.