Nora Fernandez Fernandez
Several researchers from the URJC Cyberimaginary group have been awarded by the Erasmus + project CRESCENT at the awards WSIS 2023, of the International Telecommunications Union (UTI). Specifically, in the 'Media' category and recognizes the development of audiovisual and multimedia content that combats misinformation and harmful content on the Internet.
According to Manuel Gertrudix, principal investigator of Ciberimaginario and professor of Audiovisual Communication and Advertising at the URJC, "the project has been carried out in collaboration with the National Intelligence Academy "Mihai Viteazul" (MVNIA) of Romania and the Directorate of Information and Public Relations (MAI-DIRP) of the same country, the KEMEA police entity of Greece, the Center for Security Studies and the Ministry of the Interior of Spain and the URJC, through our research group”.
The initiative, which has been running since 2018, had to adapt all face-to-face training activities to the online format when the pandemic hit. However, the bulk of the project “materialized in a MOOC through the URJCx platform that offered skills in disinformation, especially on polarization issues such as immigration or climate change. The course was intended for international spokespersons, journalists or postgraduate students, but also for anyone else interested in improving their critical skills” adds Gertrudix.
Throughout these years, around 1500 people have accessed the course, coming from more than 22 different countries, which shows the great international impact it has had. The importance of the content is that "the course helps to recognize those external agents that interfere and destabilize the political or social situation of a country, which end up being a security problem", says Gertrudix.
The WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) awards, held in Geneva, are coordinated by the International Telecommunication Union, a UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies. As the Ciberimaginario researcher affirms, “it is enormously satisfying that the project has been recognized because it has a great impact and drives the rest of the projects we are working on”.
Another one of those “projects we are working on” is DOMINOS, with which CRECENT is closely related. This initiative also aims to improve skills to counter misinformation through tools such as eLearning or Artificial Intelligence. As Gertrudix points out, "in this project another new MOOC was launched, aimed at students and also teachers, which is more practical in nature".
At the same time, the Ciberimaginario research group is also developing an initiative related to sustainability, 'Climate Warriors', which aims to focus specific aspects on the fight against climate change to also ensure sustainable communication. “This project will be of a more transversal nature, since it is intended to work with university students and also with students of ESO and Baccalaureate”, Gertrudix specifies. The objective will be to recognize clearly harmful narratives such as scientific misinformation or lack of climate awareness caused by the media.