DCN SE Hub News

April 22: Vaccines as an instrument of influence

Amid the ongoing race to dominate the COVID-19 vaccine uptake, Russia and China have been actively promoting their respective vaccines abroad through state-funded outlets and diplomatic accounts. It has been found that there is an ongoing effort to put forward negative narratives about Western vaccines in an attempt to undermine trust, (Russia) and or positive images of the Chinese vaccines as well as its role as a benevolent leader combatting COVID-19 internationally. We will organise a round table-presentation of the results of Fake News Hunters work and DFR Lab Atlantic Council regarding the topic.

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  • Esteban Ponce de León, Research Assistant at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) , Colombia
  • Zarine Kharazian, Associate Editor with the Digital Forensic Research Lab,Washington DC
  • Givi Gigitashvili, open-source analyst and digital researcher, Digital Forensic Research Lab, Georgia
  • Erasmia Tsipou, DCN Board Member, Fake News Hunters, Greece
  • Ciprian Cucu, Disinformation expert with Forum Apulum, Fake News Hunters, Romania

  • Professor Christos Frangonikolopoulos, Jean Monnet Chair, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Aristotle University, Greece
  • Dr. Nikos S. Panagiotou, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Head of DCN Global, Greece 

Speakers' bios 
Esteban Ponce de León is a Research Assistant at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) based in Colombia. Esteban has been working as a data scientist and he is interested in topics such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, data journalism, and digital research. Previously, Esteban worked in data-driven journalistic productions. He has developed tools to improve research processes and automate feature engineering and data preprocessing tasks.

Zarine Kharazian is Associate Editor with the Digital Forensic Research Lab and based in Washington DC. At the DFRLab, she has covered disinformation trends in the United States as well as the South Caucasus, with a particular focus on actors and operations that challenge existing definitional boundaries and developing novel research techniques to account for them.

Givi Gigitashvili is an open-source analyst and digital researcher with versatile professional and research experience gathered in Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Germany, and Poland. His research interests include, but are not limited to foreign influence operations in Eurasia region, social media manipulation and computational propaganda campaigns. Givi works for the DFRLab’s Disinformation Research Unit in Tbilisi, where he researches disinformation operations in South Caucasus region.

Ciprian Cucu is a disinformation expert with Forum Apulum, a grassroots civic NGO from Romania. He is one of the coordinators of "Fake News Hunters”, an innovative initiative to monitor the spread of misinformation and disinformation online and get insight into the most popular topics and their evolution over time. He has written several articles for LARICS - a Romanian think-tank dealing with information disorder, and has held several trainings on Media Literacy and Countering Disinformation. 

Erasmia Tsipou holds a Master’s Degree in Communication and Culture from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Department of Journalism and Mass Media, a Bachelor’s in Humanitarian Studies, Hellenic Civilization from the Open University of Cyprus and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management from American College of Thessaloniki. 20+ years of working experience in Mass Media: Communication Director: AtlasTV, Administrative Officer: Pegasus Media Group (“Ethnos” Newspaper), Editor: www.in.gr , PR Executive: Newspaper “Agelioforos”. She is also a TV presenter / producer, and Radio producer. She is a Certified Adult Trainer (Lifelong Learning) and Fellow Researcher in Peace Journalism Laboratory. Leader of the Greek Team in Fake News Hunters, a DCN Global project, and has published scientific papers.

This roundtable is organised as part of Fake News Hunters project funded from GEC.

This event is co-organized by Digital Communication Network (South East Europe HUB) and World Learning and is part of DCNSEE’s Ideas in Action – Digital Engagement, a series of virtual events launched in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.