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09-29-19-annenberg-public-policy-center-zihan-chen
Credit: Zihan Chen

The National Science Foundation awarded FACT CHAMP, the Annenberg School for Public Policy’s new collaboration, a $750,000 grant to identify the origins of misinformation about the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

FACT CHAMP, which stands for Fact-checker, Academic, and Community Collaboration Tools: Combating Hate, Abuse, and Misinformation with Minority-led Partnerships, aims to bring fact checkers and researchers together with communities to counter misinformation and hate speech. 

Jonathan Corpus Ong, an associate professor in global digital media at University of Massachusetts Amherst, said that the initiative is timely because of the recent surge in hate crimes against members of the AAPI community.

“This project feels urgent, as it is really an intervention that engages with the tragedies that have spurred the #StopAAPIHate movement,” Ong said in the Annenberg press release.

FACT CHAMP will be a pioneer in exploring the intersection between communication, data and computer science, and artificial intelligence, in order to research misinformation and find effective solutions, according to a press release from Meedan, a technology nonprofit focused on fact-checking tools that is part of the partnership.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Connecticut, Rutgers University, and AuCoDe, a start-up that detects and analyzes disinformation using artificial intelligence, are also part of the partnership.

Meedan Director of Research Scott Hale, said in Meedan’s press release that collaborations across computer science and social science can lead to the creation of new tools and approaches to counter misinformation.

The FACT CHAMP project is the most recent in a series of efforts by the Annenberg School to tackle misinformation relating to minority groups. Its project Factcheck.org was created nearly two decades ago and was used earlier this year to address COVID-19 vaccine misinformation in the Hispanic community in the United States.

After conducting research for Phase I of the project, the FACT CHAMP team will propose their Phase II plan. If selected to move forward, the collaboration will earn an additional $5 million in funding to apply their research to real world problems.

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