Disinformation: Is it who said it, or what it says? An update on European policy, and more

Berkeley Computational Social Science Forum

CSS Training Program

March 8, 2022
4:00pm to 5:00pm
Virtual Participation


Berkeley Computational Social Science Forum
Date: Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Time: 4:00-5:00 PM Pacific Time
Location: Virtual Participation – Register to attend via Zoom

Disinformation: Is it who said it, or what it says? An update on European policy, and more

Speaker: Anni HellmanDeputy Head of Unit, BIDS Visiting Fellow, EU Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology

Disinformation is difficult, and it can be dangerous. It has power to cause unnecessary deaths, to change election results, or to turn people against each other in violence. It is used as a tool in new, hybrid warfare, and in many wars and campaigns online. Why is it so difficult to eradicate disinformation? 

The European Commission (EC) has since 2018 taken a number of successful actions against disinformation through collaboration with major platforms and advertising industry as well as with fact checkers, and by improving its funding on media literacy and social media research. These have concrete outcomes, and the ambition is to scale up horizontally and vertically. We are getting results and improving the online world, step by step.

However, most disinformation related measures focus on combating the “WHAT”, the content. But what if WHO shares the content is more important that WHAT the content is? Is that the reason there continues to be so much disinformation? 

The Computational Social Science Forum is an informal setting for the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and scholarship at the intersection of social science and data science. Participants engage in a variety of activities such as presentations of work in progress, discussions and critiques of recent papers, introductions to new tools and methods, discussions around ethics, fairness, inequality, and responsible conduct of research, as well as professional development. This Forum is organized as part of the Computational Social Science Training Program, and weekly meetings are hosted by researchers from BIDS and D-Lab. The group welcomes social scientists and researchers with interests in data science methods and tools, and data scientists with applications or interests in public policy, social, behavioral, and health sciences. Participants include graduate students, postdocs, staff, and faculty, and members are encouraged to attend regularly in order to foster community around improving computational social science research, supporting the development and research of group members, and fostering new collaborations. Interested UC Berkeley community members are invited to use this registration form to receive the schedule and access links. Please contact css-t32@berkeley.edu for more information or if you are interested in presenting current research for an upcoming session.


Anni Hellman

Deputy Head of Unit, EU Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology

Anni Hellman – the Deputy Head of Unit at the EU Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology – was a BIDS Visiting Fellow and an EU Fellow in the Berkeley Institute of European Studies at University of California, Berkeley, in 2021-2022. She is a mathematician, qualified insurance actuary and a Fellow of the Actuarial Association of Finland, and holds degrees in mathematics, actuarial sciences and computer sciences. In the European Commission, her unit (Media convergence and social media) has focused on the challenges of social media, with two main strands or work: policy on how to tackle the challenges of disinformation, and how to work towards ensuring the integrity of social media through a multidisciplinary approach and through funding of research projects. In Berkeley, Hellman has returned partly to her mathematical roots to look into the challenges of artificial intelligence in general and algorithms in particular – can AI be audited? – as well as the disinformation challenge from a mathematical perspective. Hellman aims to combine her backgrounds in pure and actuarial mathematics, in audit practices and in working on and with the European legislative instruments.