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Saturday, June 10, 2023

UW-Madison researchers awarded $750,000 grant to combat COVID-19 and 2020 election misinformation

A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers won a $750,000 grant intended to combat misinformation about COVID-19 and the 2020 election on Oct. 1. The grant will fund a project that will study the most effective methods of combating misinformation online.

The project, “How Large-Scale Identification and Intervention Can Empower Professional Fact-Checkers to Improve Democracy and Public Health,” will measure which corrections of misinformation are most effective. 

The grant is funded by the National Science’s Foundation Convergence Accelerator, and it will go towards helping “determine what corrections of misinformation are effective and get[ting] that information to professional fact checkers, who can work in real time to correct misinformation circulating on social media,” said UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication Professor Mike Wagner, a principal investigator on the grant. 

According to its abstract, the report aims to enable the “testing of fact-checking stories on topics like elections and vaccines as they move across social media platforms,” gain feedback on how these corrections work and effectively “develop an interactive system that enables fact-checkers to perform rapid-cycle testing of fact-checking messages and monitor their real-time performance among online communities at-risk of misinformation exposure.” 

Sija Yang, a SJMC Assistant Professor and one of the principal investigators on the project, stated they “hope to empower professional fact checkers and journalists by amplifying their role and allowing them to leverage data and proven methods.”

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