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Anti-misinformation hub CEDMO launches in Central Europe

An EU-funded hub to fight misinformation in Central Europe launched in Prague on Thursday, led by an alliance of researchers and fact checking journalists.

The project, co-ordinated by Charles University, also aims to boost public media literacy in the region and develop artificial intelligence tools to detect misinformation.

The Central European Digital Media Observatory (CEDMO) brings together partners in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, including AFP news agency, a global leader in digital investigation.

The project's website -- cedmohub.eu -- will be part of the Europe-wide EDMO network.

"We aim to strengthen interdisciplinary and international cooperation in order to support regional resilience, social cohesion, wellbeing and democracy in our countries," Vaclav Moravec, CEDMO's project coordinator, said in a statement.

The Central Europe region is seen as particularly vulnerable to misinformation because of low rates of media literacy.

Local media watchdogs also say countries in the region are deliberately targeted by pro-Russian disinformation.

The CEDMO project is independent and non-partisan.

Christine Buhagiar, AFP's Europe Director, said it brings together "key players... to help the public better navigate through potentially harmful false or misleading claims".

Fact checks for the project -- around 40 a month -- will be provided in Czech, English, Polish and Slovak by AFP, Demagog.cz, Demagog.sk, Infosecurity.sk and Konkret24.

The project will also include academic research on disinformation circuits, regulation and the impact of disinformation on the media, communities and society.

SWPS University in Poland, Czech Technical University and the Slovakia's Kempelen Institute of Intelligent Technologies and the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius are also involved.

"CEDMO is a great opportunity to connect theoretical concepts and research results to practice," said Martin Solik, an assistant professor at the University of Ss Cyril and Methodius.

A Eurostat poll in December found only 16 percent of people in Poland and 19 percent in the Czech Republic verified information online -- some of the lowest rates in the European Union.

The highest rate was found in the Netherlands where 45 percent of respondents said they had verified information found on websites or social media in the previous three months.

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© Agence France-Presse