“Narratives Observatory combatting Disinformation in Europe Systemically” or NODES is a Pilot Project set up by seven partners coming from four European countries. The observatory is co-funded by the European Commission with the aim to deploy the power of narratives to tackle disinformation within the European public sphere.
“Immigrants are a danger to our security”; “Governments created COVID-19 to control citizens”; “The only winners of globalisation are big corporate multinationals”; but also “Immigrants will pay our pensions”; “We might not be able to keep global warming within 1,5 degrees, but we should still do our best to contain it as much as possible”. “Green activism will force us to swap meat burgers for insects”. Narratives are all around and they are more and more the main vehicle for citizens to understand the world and share ideas and beliefs.
Narratives are the structures through which we order and understand reality. They are central to the spreading of ideas, which makes them a key building block of the public sphere. It is through narratives and shared interpretations of the world that people unite. Yet, they also have the power to divide and polarise, thus undermining one of the fundamentals of democracy: the public debate. The importance of studying how narratives are created and spread is therefore crucial in the fight to create a better information ecosystem.
A consortium formed by Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Centre de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), PlusValue, Sotrender, Science Feedback, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, and coordinated by Re-Imagine Europa (RIE) is launching a Pilot project to establish the first European Narratives Observatory to fight disinformation online. The main objective of NODES, a project co-founded by the European Commission, is to develop a novel large-scale mechanism to analyse and monitor the origin, development, and spread of narratives classified as “disinformation”.
It is imperative to ensure the representativeness of the contemporary, multi-issue, multi-lingual, multi-platform, and multi-cultural European public sphere. To do so, the NODES consortium will analyse the most common narratives spreading on both traditional and digital media within three different topics (Climate Change, Migration and COVID-19), and in four different languages (English, French, Polish and Spanish).
The project, under the scientific leadership of Professor Andrzej Nowak, brings together relevant scientists from across Europe as Professor David Chavalarias, Research Director of the Centre de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS); Guido Caldarelli, Professor of Physics at Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia; Emmanuel Vincent, Founder and Director of Science Feedback, and Re-Imagine Europa’s Contemporary Mythologies Scholar Marcin Napiórkowski. They will work hand in hand with journalists, fact-checkers, other practitioners and prominent experts on disinformation, media ecosystem, psychology and neuroscience. Together, they aim to develop a transferable methodology to measure the impact of narratives and identify potential patterns to create positive, constructive narratives which can help depolarise the increasingly polarised public debate. In addition, the project will provide quantitative and qualitative data on the narrative approach to disinformation and misinformation, concrete recommendations for future policy action, and novel practices.