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Lead academic: Dr Laszlo Horvath (Politics)
Lead academic: Professor Susan Banducci (Politics)

Fighting Fake News: Can civic technology fight online misinformation?

Fighting Fake News

COVID-19 update

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Grand Challenges is not able to go ahead in its usual face to face format, and is instead running as a similar online programme called Challenges Online. The inaugural Challenges Online ran in June 2020 and Challenges Online 2021 will run between 7th-11th June 2021. Please go to the Challenges Online website for more information.

Challenge overview

With the rise of technology and social media, it has become quicker for false information to be spread, particularly by the use of social bots. While media outlets continue to work closely with fact checking organisations to combat misinformation, we need more and innovative answers to the problem of misinformation.

In this Challenge, you will have the opportunity to explore online misinformation, where it happens, and what we can do about it as concerned citizens. You will also have the chance to explore the use of web-based civic technologies and build one of your own online tool to fight fake news.

We are inviting referees from our existing connections with Exeter's growing tech scene via TechExeter, as well as with national actors active in the field of technology and new media.


When you sign up, you can select which of the following themes you are most interested in addressing, or you can propose your own. The themes that are the most popular are the ones that will run during Grand Challenges Week. Themes may include: climate change, immigration, Europe and sexism.

Enquiry groups

Students will be split into three groups: Bots, Research, and Policy. The three groups will work closely together to present a final output at the end of the week. You can select which group you are most interested in joining when you sign up.

Students interested in developing technical skills will explore the possibility of building a social bot themselves that is able to automate the posting of fact-checked, corrective information on a smaller or medium scale. Training will be given to students in this group thus no prior knowledge or experience are necessary.

Students in this group will delve into research around a set of key themes to identify claims and context, and will crucially identify the online communities where fake news is routinely being spread.

Students in this group will consider communicating the impact of using technology to combat misinformation as policy briefs. Institutional actors such as the House of Lords' Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies routinely releases calls for evidence on topics around combating misinformation, to which this piece of work could be submitted.