Exposing online fake news

Think about the last few years. The COVID-19 pandemic generated panic on a worldwide scale and pushed states to make drastic decisions to save lives. During this political movement of crucial importance, a tsunami of fake news went along, imperiling and weakening actions against the pandemic.

What if the world had a simple, efficient system to distinguish fake and reliable news? A system that would allow anyone, anywhere, at any time, to navigate the seemingly indecipherable amounts of ambiguous information? An immediate, reliable tool to handle social media information? We could spare many lives, violence, and misunderstandings between people and foster trust and harmony in our divided times.

This is not only a vision but a definite possibility.


Fayez Alrafeea

Fayez is a researcher in information systems at the University of Geneva. He is specialized in social media and fact-checking organizations. Fayez is also a former lead engineer in software design and development, especially for big data and multi-tier frameworks. He also has research experience in information systems and is currently doing his PhD in fighting fake news online.

Basile Zimmermann

Basile is an anthropologist and a sociologist of technology. He is a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Institut Confucius at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, a multidisciplinary research and teaching center on contemporary China. He is the author of Waves and Forms: Electronic Music Devices and Computer Encodings in China, Popular Humanities, or the Culture of Things. His current research projects focus on the anthropology of innovation in China and the Middle East.

Alessandro Chidichimo

Alessandro is a specialist in the history of language sciences and philology. His PhD was a reconstruction of the manuscript "De l'essence double du langage" written by the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (Prix Charles Bally 2012). In 2015 he was the first researcher in Europe to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign to finance his research project. Alessandro also is a former journalist in Italy, he teaches web writing at the University of Geneva, and he is an associate researcher at the Institut Confucius.

Steven J. Barela

Steven is a specialist in international law and security and has studied online disinformation operations for nearly a decade. He is also CEO of a small business in New Mexico. His doctorate is in human rights law, the laws of war and political philosophy, with three books and dozens of scientific publications. He has particularly specialized in interdisciplinary projects to integrate science, law and ethics, serving as the editor of an international public policy document seeking to reduce torture.

Advisory Board

Giovanna Di Marzo Serugendo

Prof. Giovanna is the director of the Computer Science Center at the University of Geneva. She was nominated in 2018 among the 100 digital shapers in Switzerland. Her research interests relate to the engineering of decentralized software with self-organizing and emergent behavior. Giovanna co-founded the IEEE International Conference on Self-Adaptive and Self-Organising Systems and the ACM Transactions on Autonomous Adaptive Systems.

Laurent Haug

Laurent guides industry leaders, startups, and policymakers through the complexities of emerging technologies and the larger social and economic changes surrounding them. Clients hire him to connect them to the people, capital, ideas, and tools that will enhance and accelerate their projects. Laurent works extensively with Swiss and international media to spread the word about the impact of technology in an accessible and fun way. He is also active in all industries impacted by digital, including finance, retail, events, consulting, and media.

Agathe Chevalier

Agathe is a scientific knowledge broker who builds connections between higher learning institutions and the media. She created and manages Avisdexperts.ch, which offers access to the interventions of thousands of researchers on the Swiss public media (RTS). She is also a principal investigator in a project aiming to develop an interactive web platform for semantic mapping of media content to help journalists identify relevant scientific experts.

Stéphane Berthet

Stéphane Berthet earned a doctorate in Astrophysics and Astronomy at the University of Geneva in 1991, and for 11 years contributed to shaping Switzerland's research policies concerning space. Through SERI, the State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation, he was responsible for representing Switzerland at numerous international research institutions such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and Euratom. He returned to UNIGE in 2003 as Secretary-General, a position he held through October 2018. Rector Yves Flückiger named him Vice-Rector as of 1 November 2018.

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