A year after the inception of the “Technologies Against Disinformation” initiative, stakeholders reconvened with renewed vigor at the second event. Bulgaria’s brightest technological and scientific minds presented their findings, tools, and visions for an informed society. 

This year, with doubled attendance, the conference not only revisited the challenges but also highlighted the road towards tangible, actionable solutions.

Reflecting on last year’s foundations

The 2022 conference was a call to recognise the digital dilemmas we face—lack of transparency, insufficient moderation, the shadowy presence of “troll factories,” and problematic content suggestion algorithms.

The Chairman of the e-Government and Information Technology Committee in the Bulgarian Parliament, Bozhidar Bozhanov underscored the need for technological interventions. In response, Vasil Shivachev of Identrics highlighted how advanced technologies and tools like topic engagement could transform information into actionable knowledge.

“Everyone has access to a vast amount of information. But this information has to be turned into knowledge, and it has to reach the right people at the right time,”

Vasil Shivachev, COO at Identrics

All in all, Identrics, alongside Ontotext and GATE Institute, laid the groundwork last July with the first edition of the “Technologies Against Disinformation” conference.

This year’s leap forward

Building on last year’s insights, “Technologies Against Disinformation 2.0” has shifted from outlining the problem to formulating potential solutions. It was a call to arms for strategic communications and the construction of a comprehensive counter-hybrid warfare strategy.

The answer to that call was a roster of experts who provided a multidimensional view of the disinformation landscape. The panelists dissected complex issues, from AI ethics to the psychological foundation of disinformation as discussed by Bozhidar Bozhanov, now a pivotal voice in the conversation.

From tech innovators to policy-makers, the discussions revolved around one common idea:

“We should aim to build an ecosystem, rather than working solo on potential cures,”

Vasil Shivachev, COO at Identrics

A collaborative ecosystem, as noted by Vasil Shivachev, is paramount, but it should come in combination with a shift towards proactive, rather than reactive, measures. Or else we risk chasing our own tail, as Martin Stamenov of Sensika Technologies pointed out.

Key insights from the conference

The event this year, opened by key political figures, including the Minister of Defence Todor Tagarev, reflected on global disinformation challenges and underscored the lack of state-level instruments to counteract manipulative content.

According to Minister Tagarev,

“the main way to deal with disinformation is strategic communications”

The issue with the lack of sanctioning mechanisms against disinformation at the state level was further reinforced by Col. Dobril Radoslavov, who signified that disinformation is only one method of manipulation.

Later on, Eneya Georgieva from Ontotext delved into the intricacies of reused content to spread misinformation. This ignited a discussion over the impact of real-time examples of massive, fake news campaigns spanning across more than 10 countries at once.

Dr. Todor Galev was the perfect addition to that discussion as he presented research on the monetization of misinformation. It was the “aha moment” for many in the audience as the topic allowed for assessment of the economical and social impact of disinformation.

Researchers from the GATE Institute showcased groundbreaking analyses on public sentiment, and advanced detection of DeepFake technologies. While Dr. Keith Peter Kiely explained in detail the propaganda against the European currency, Dr. Irina Temnikova presented tools to discern false information in social media and the first scientific work on detecting traces of textual deepfakes in Bulgarian on social media.

Of particular interest were also:

  • Vasil Velichkov from Sensika Technologies and his presentation on the Digital Services Act which outlined impending regulations and stirred a dialogue on preparedness and compliance. 
  • Prof. Dimitar Vatsov and the A Data Pro team that illustrated their methodologies for discerning propaganda, contributing to a robust toolkit against misinformation.
  • Martin Stamenov’s demonstration of strategies for detecting propaganda campaigns. 

The event was rounded up by Identrics’ Vasil Shivachev, who reinforced the need for sustained efforts and the creation of an ecosystem resilient to the storms of disinformation. At the same time, Bozhidar Bozhanov, left us with a poignant thought:

“might the antidote to disinformation lie within psychological realms and better public education initiatives?”

Moving beyond dialogue

The event was a collaborative success, thanks to the contributions of tech companies, academic institutions, and political leadership. 

There was a shared acknowledgment that while significant steps have been made, the journey ahead is long and requires the continued commitment of all stakeholders. The solution to disinformation is a composite of government engagement, tech innovation, and public empowerment.

It is as bright as day that the overwhelming consensus among the panelists this year signals a readiness to move beyond dialogue to implementation. In this perspective, Identrics and all other partners of the event are at the forefront, transforming the way we perceive and tackle digital deceit.

Acknowledgments and future vision

“Technologies Against Disinformation 2.0” has charted the journey from awareness to action. The combined efforts of tech companies, regulators, and researchers have set the stage for an ongoing collaboration that reaches beyond the conference room into the fabric of society for creating a resilient information ecosystem. 

In this context, we invite the global community, especially journalists and policy-makers, to engage with the insights and tools presented at the conference.

For those who could not join us live or wish to revisit the enlightening dialogues, we invite you to delve into the depth of knowledge shared at the conference by watching the recording.

The journey does not end here; it evolves with every shared insight, every technological advancement, and every informed citizen.

For additional information, resources, or live chat with us about potential solutions for your business, please reach out to us.