DALIL: the Disinformation Assessment, Listening and Investigation Lab
Through a combination of capacity building, communications and advocacy support, and digital innovation, this project seeks to increase the use of locally-driven fact-checked news media by the public and policy makers across the MENA region. The project equally equips fact-checkers to claim their seat at the table in debates about how to define what constitutes harmful or otherwise censorable content online.
The fact-checking role of journalists is a critical component of a robust media environment. Yet, across the MENA region, the ability of fact-checking entities to effectively monitor and counter malignant information online is low, while the power to define what constitutes harmful or otherwise censorable content online is highly concentrated in the hands of ill-informed technology companies and heavy-handed state actors. This concentration of power has left a clear democratic deficit in relation to if, when, how, why and by whom online speech should be moderated. This poses a threat to the long-term prospects of pluralistic, rights-based and cohesive societies taking root in the region. The recent formation of the Arab Fact-Checkers Network (AFCN), a coalition of local and regional fact-checking entities, an ideal opportunity to start redressing these imbalances and empower local civil society.
The project seeks to strengthen the effectiveness and resilience of the Arab Fact-Checkers Network and establish it as a leading hub for fact-checking in the region. This will involve supporting fact-checking units through the provision of legal, psychosocial and digital safety support; offering training and mentoring on topics such as data journalism and fact-checking; and supporting the development of customised, regionally-relevant fact-checking guidelines and criteria. Considerable support in terms of communications, social media strategies, and advocacy will also be provided to make sure that these new capabilities have greater reach and impact.
Initially targeting a coalition of seven fact-checking entities, the project offers unique opportunities for cross-regional lesson learning and strengthened advocacy capabilities. Early assessments reveal that the integration of digital technologies within the fact-checking work of target group entities is very low, with a heavy reliance on manual processes for the fact-checking workflow. At the centre of the project, Siren will therefore develop an Open Source Fact-Checking Lab. Created in close collaboration with fact-checkers across the region, this digital lab will help streamline and automate factchecking processes, and act as a node for fact-checkers and technologists to share lessons-learnt, compare trends and brainstorm further innovations.
Enhanced effectiveness and resilience of the Arab Fact Checkers Network
- Capacity building and support: through legal, psychosocial and digital support services, as well as training and the design of fact-checking guidelines, the project will improve the safety and security of fact-checkers and increase their capacity in line with international best practices.
- Technology: through the development and deployment of the Open Source Fact-Check Lab, a first of its kind platform in the Arabic language, fact-checking entities will be equipped with a set of tools that augment the human fact-checking process and create a more effective, robust, and networked fact-checking capability across the region.
- Communications and advocacy: by enhancing the communications capabilities of fact checking entities, raising awareness about the AFCN and the Fact-Check Lab, and delivering cutting-edge research products, this workstream will amplify the impact of fact-checking and establish the importance of Arab fact-checkers’ engagement in regional and global policy development.
Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Yemen
European Commission – Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace
October 2021 – September 2023
Point of contact
Carole Alsharabati, Project Director
Made possible with support from the European Commission