Italy is one of the global epicentres of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the national Government declaring the state of emergency in the entire Italian territory. As of the beginning of March 2020, AGCOM (the Italian Communications Authority) was called upon supporting the Government action in matters concerning the regulation of communications operators and the consumer protection in the peculiar context of the pandemic emergency.
To this end, AGCOM has established a Task Force on data science and online misinformation involving Sony CSL Paris and other research partners. The objective is to conduct studies and analyses on online misinformation and the socio-economic impacts of both fake and real news on the epidemic. This shall allow AGCOM to acquire the relevant knowledge and expertise to set up effective monitoring systems and tools which may serve to tackle online disinformation spreading across social media.
The Task Force operates pro bono and is made by renowned academic and research institutions. Research focuses on two main directions:
As members of the Task Force, we investigate the first research focus, What people want to know. Handling a new emergency in the Digital Age always involves the understanding of the information dynamics regarding the crisis. Such aspect has been particularly relevant during the COVID-19 emergency, extensively covered by the media to help society understand the evolution of the pandemic. What are the informational needs of a population confronted with an emergency? How are these necessities evolving with time? What is the impact of institutional interventions? How are these queries distributed geographically? These are just some of the questions that our team is addressing. Results of our investigations (and not only) are available on AGCOM GitHub page.